Recent Near Misses with Helicopters Call Drone Safety into Question

By Kevin Eck 

Three drones in one week have raised safety concerns about the unnamed aerial vehicles after close calls with helicopters in New York and Cleveland.

In New York, officers piloting an NYPD chopper felt threatened enough by two drones flying over the George Washington Bridge to have the operators arrested.

The New York Post reported, “The NYPD pilots ‘observed flying object[s] at 2,000 feet in vicinity of the George Washington Bridge, then circling heading toward the helicopter,’’ a police report said. ‘The officers were forced to change their course to avoid a collision.’ One source called it a ‘very dangerous” scenario.'”


While in Cleveland a drone possibly violated a temporary flight restriction and came within 50 yards of a helicopter flying at 1700 feet. Drones are only allowed to fly as high as 400 feet.

The operators spoke with Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS about the incident.

Anthony Serio with Cleveland Aerial Media said they were unaware of the TFR, until after the demolition.

Serio said they should have contacted the FAA ahead of time.

Cleveland Aerial Media did add that they welcome the FAA to create licensing, regulations, and certification to promote safe drone operation.

Recent incidents involving drones have UAS experts issuing safety reminders since many helicopters, including police and medical choppers, fly between 100 and 180 MPH.

A drone can be made out of 15 pounds of titanium.