Albert Einstein used to say that “only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.” This video showing the largest commercial airliner flying feet away from a drone confirms the endless idiocy of some people.
What Happens in the Video?
The video, embedded below, shows an Airbus A380 taking off from the Plaine Magnien Airport located on the Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean. The A380 is the largest commercial airliner in the world and can carry more than 500 passengers in a typical three class seat configuration and up to 850 passengers in a densified all-economy cabin version. As the jumbo jet takes off from the runway 14, the prepositioned drone films the plane passing dangerously close at about 300 feet from the tip of the left wing. The airliner belongs to the Dubai-based company Emirates. It seems to be the 4:35 p.m. flight EK702 on regular schedule to Dubai airport.
Who Filmed and Published the Video?
As this point, there is no information about the identity of the pilot. The video had originally been published on Facebook by Thierry Paris who describes himself as an A380 captain for Air France. He wrote in the video caption (auto-translated): “That's what a little crazy guy managed to do with a drone in Mauritius. Hello flight safety!!!”
I contacted him and I will update this article if new details emerge from this story.
What Drone Was Used?
Any drone could have been used to film this video but the presence of some sort of digital zoom in the video (1:12) could indicate that the pilot used a Parrot Anafi. Unlike DJI, the Parrot drones are not equipped with geofencing capabilities. However, the DJI no-fly zone in the area is very small (see the map below) and the drone was flying just outside this perimeter anyway. Finally, flight restrictions can easily be hacked on consumer drones.
As usual, this type of story will surely fuel the fire of the anti-drone crowd. However, adding new regulations and restrictions won’t stop stupid people from doing this kind of things. Likes car and guns, drone are just objects that can be diverted by irresponsible people. All the homicide and DUI regulations don’t prevent certain people to commit murders and drive over the limits. Drones are here to stay and any attempt to ground them will fail. The main point is to work on the drone detection capabilities and the integration of these unmanned aircrafts in the national airspace. The business of drone detection is tricky but several companies are already offering solutions like the DJI AeroScope. Beyond that, drones will have to be properly identified and equipped with position reporting equipment such as miniature ADS-B and TCAS system (or based on GPS and cellular network). In the USA, the FAA is working on the issue but the federal government is not known for its decision speed. Hopefully, the official remote ID requirement system won’t be plagued by bureaucratic and technical non-sense otherwise, some drone pilots will continue to fly illegally. Let’s hope that the decision makers find the right balance between liberty and security.