An Avy Aera delivery drone, hovering between 50 m to 65 m above the ground level, lost control and crash-landed during a test flight in Scotland, a report says.
The Avy Aera 1.5 aircraft was being flown manually during demonstrations at the Arran War Memorial Hospital in May 2022 when it started emanating a rhythmic lower-than-normal sound, the UK government’s latest air accidents bulletin says.
A few seconds later, the hovering drone dipped and spiraled downward. The pilot tried to reestablish control and fly the aircraft back to its launch site but could not succeed. The delivery drone eventually hit the ground and was severely damaged by the impact.
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The report comes as part of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) Correspondence Investigations, which means the government officials did not conduct a field investigation themselves but are notifying the incident based on the findings of the pilot-in-command.
The Avy Aera 1.5 is a fixed-wing, payload-carrying drone capable of launching and landing vertically. It has five electric motors, of which four are mounted on twin booms and drive propellers that enable the drone’s vertical takeoff, hover, and landing capability. A single electrically driven pusher propeller creates the thrust for horizontal flight.
According to the AAIB report, when the drone manufacturer examined the aircraft after the crash, a critical bolt had become worn out, which resulted in one of the lift propeller blades becoming detached during the flight.
The report further says Avy has now introduced a 10-hour replacement schedule for the propellers and immediate propeller replacement if a “Quadchute” event takes place. In a Quadchute event, the drone’s motors are automatically supposed to take over from the fixed-wing horizontal flight mode and bring the aircraft back to a steady hovering position. In addition, Avy is carrying out a review of the propeller designs for the drones under its development.
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It’s worth pointing out that while the drone that crashed was manufactured in 2021, Avy has since announced a new model of the Aera, which it insists is “designed to meet the latest EU drone regulations and UN requirements for the aerial transport of medical goods.” The redesigned Avy Aera 3 is also supposed to feature improvements in controllability, connectivity, and redundancy of flight-critical systems.
Some companies that are already working with Avy to deploy Aera drones include ANWB, PostNL, CHC, Sanquin (the Dutch blood bank), Port of Rotterdam, and Falck (a leader in emergency and healthcare services from Denmark).
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