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Remotely piloted aircraft crashes near the MCG

Aeronavics SkyJib 8 remotely piloted aircraft

Radio frequency interference at a crowded Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) likely resulted in the loss of control and crash of a remotely piloted aircraft. The aircraft was providing media coverage of the cricket World Cup Final on 29 March 2015.

The three-man crew operating the aircraft consisted of a flight controller, a ground station controller, and a camera gimbal controller. The crew launched the aircraft to capture footage as the teams entered the MCG. The aircraft took off from the top of one of the MCG scoreboards and climbed normally to about 300 ft above ground level, tracking south towards Hisense Arena.

About two minutes into the flight, with the aircraft over the northern roof of Hisense Arena, the camera gimbal operator lost control of the gimbal. Seconds later, the ground station controller lost communication with the aircraft. The flight controller decided to discontinue the flight, but found that the aircraft was unresponsive to flight control commands. Aircraft recovery procedures were implemented but ineffective, and continued attempts to regain control were unsuccessful.

The aircraft travelled west for a distance, and after hovering momentarily just south of the Rod Laver Arena, it descended and collided with the ground on the median strip on Batman Avenue. The aircraft and its equipment sustained substantial damage. No one was injured in the collision, and there was no damage to other property.

... this accident highlights the ongoing importance of appropriate RPA operational controls and procedures.

The operator’s report concluded that radio frequency interference was the most likely cause of the accident. The volume of radio frequency traffic at the time of the accident would have been substantial, and perhaps sufficient to affect aircraft control signals. Numerous fixed telecommunications facilities and mobile broadcast vehicles in the vicinity of the MCG were likely to be transmitting at the time of the accident. Over 93,000 people attended the event, many of whom were probably using personal mobile communication devices at about the time of the accident. Furthermore, the use of portable communication devices by event management personnel may also have contributed to the volume of radio frequency traffic.


Read the full investigation report AO-2015-035

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Last update 27 August 2015