A commercial UAV undergoing an inspection over the sea suffered a signal failure which led to the system descending into the water, a report has concluded.
According to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), a 27-year-old pilot, who has not been identified, was flying a Falcon 8 Trinity Asctec, (UAS) BAS-02 over the North Sea as part of inspection work.
Immediately after take-off the system was flown approximately 20 meters away from the ship at a height of 20 meters.
After the pilot successfully carried out hover checks, in accordance with the operator’s standard operating procedures, he then switched the UAS into GPS mode.
While the unmanned system was able to hold its position in the GPS mode, indicating to the pilot the system was functioning correctly, when the pilot started flying the UAV about 30 meters from the ship, the UAV activated it emergency ‘Come Home High’ mode, indicating a loss of link.
The AAIB reported: “The pilot attempted to regain control by switching first to height mode and then to manual mode, but the UAV remained uncontrollable and descended into the sea.
“The UAV floated for a few seconds before sinking, although the operator was able to recover it back to the ship. The UAS was returned to the manufacturer to try to establish the cause of the lost link. Tests on the software, UAV and ground station were unable to identify any faults.”