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RCMP helicopter-drone crash amid Wet’suwet’en dispute cost nearly $200K

Global exclusive: first reported mid-air collision between RCMP helicopter and drone
First reported mid-air collision between RCMP helicopter and drone (Aired: June 8, 2020)

Costs associated with a collision between a police helicopter and drone during the Wet’suwet’en dispute in northern B.C. earlier this year are estimated at nearly $200,000, according to the RCMP.

The cost of removing the helicopter from where it landed, transporting it to a local airport and repairing it is expected to be about $120,000, Mounties said, while buying another drone is anticipated to cost $75,000.

READ MORE: RCMP helicopter and drone collided during Wet’suwet’en protests in northern B.C.: TSB report

The collision happened on Feb. 6, the same day the RCMP began to enforce a court order to remove Wet’suwet’en members and other pipeline opponents and clear a route to a Coastal GasLink worksite near Houston, B.C.

Three people were aboard the helicopter. No was injured in the collision.

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The aircraft collided with a FLIR SkyRanger R60 unmanned aerial vehicle during a low-level flight, according to a report from the Transportation Safety Board.

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink to lay first pipe in July as pipeline construction ramps up

The drone was destroyed, while the helicopter pilot landed on a road after feeling vibration from the collision.

Inspection later revealed damage to the aircraft’s main rotor blades, tail boom and tail rotor, the agency’s report said.

Asked about how the collision occurred, given that both aircraft were piloted by RCMP personnel, the force only said it had taken “immediate steps to prevent a similar incident happening again.”

READ MORE: No charges to be laid against northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Those steps include updating the pre-flight checklists and barring drones from flying at the same time as helicopters.

When the machines need to be used at the same time, the RCMP said drones will be required to fly below 91 metres (300 feet), while helicopters will fly above 152 metres (500 feet).