An AIR7 HD helicopter was struck by an object, believed to be a drone, at 1,100 feet over downtown Los Angeles Wednesday night. The chopper had to make a precautionary landing.
At around 7:15 p.m., as the helicopter was flying over the downtown LA area, pilot and reporter Chris Cristi said that he and the crew heard and felt a bang as an object hit the tail of the chopper. ABC7 Eyewitness News reports the incident as the helicopter being struck by a drone, even though that has yet to be proven. The initial photos show significant damage to the AIR7 HD helicopter.
Update: it seems that ABC7 Eyewitness News has changed the title of their news story to: “AIR7 HD struck by suspected drone over downtown LA, makes precautionary landing.”
Update 2: NBC News reports: “Two FAA inspectors examined the helicopter this morning, the FAA said, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requested that affected parts of the helicopter be removed and sent for analysis. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.”
DJI Spark and DJI Mavic drone models are a permanent part of LAPD’s arsenal since Tuesday this week, despite opposition from privacy advocates who are afraid that the unmanned aircraft will become a spying tool for the LA police force.
Amidst protest, the civilian board overseeing the Los Angeles Police Department voted 3-1 in favor of the LAPD using the pilot program. On Tuesday the Los Angeles Police Department signed off on a year-long test of drones. The LAPD is the largest police department in the U.S. to do so.
According to the proposal, the drones will be specifically used by the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division SWAT Team in “dangerous, high-risk tactical situations and improve situational awareness capabilities during natural disasters and catastrophic incidents.”