Norwich police drone crashed 'with a second's notice'

DJI Matrice 210 Image copyright AAIB
Image caption The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said this type of drone may be affected by wet conditions

A police drone crashed in a city after spinning out of control with a second's notice, according to investigators.

The DJI Matrice 210 unmanned aircraft was being operated at Hammond Court, Norwich, at 15:00 BST on 11 June 2019 when the crash happened.

The drone, fitted with optical and thermal imaging cameras, lost power and crashed in an open space. Nobody was injured and no property damaged.

Investigators said this type of drone may be affected by damp conditions.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has looked at a number of crashes involving DJI Matrice drones.

It has recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority tell users of this drone, which typically sells for about £5,000, that moisture entering the aircraft could result in "sudden loss of control".

'Motor overload'

The AAIB report said the Norfolk Police operator had flown the drone 80m (260ft) in the air, at a time when light rain was forecast.

It had been up for 10 minutes when the "motor overload" message was displayed, and soon after it began to spin before crashing to the ground and was destroyed.

The drone operator considered the accident was caused by either a motor or electronic speed controller (ESC) failure.

He said the extra weight and position of the thermal camera may have destabilised the drone and contributed to the crash.

The report said the operator thought restrictions on operating this drone in congested areas should be reintroduced as he only had a second's warning of the failure before control of the aircraft was lost.

Sgt Danny Leach, of Norfolk Police, said the crash was due to a manufacturing fault, and that the drone had been flown "well within its manufacturer's safety recommendations" and not over "any members of the public or property".

He added: "The manufacturer has since replaced the drone with a different version with no expense to the constabulary."

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