Suspected Drone Strike on Helicopter

 Suspected Drone Strike on S300C Helicopter N2158T

On 23 June 2022 Schweizer 300C N2158T struck an object when 500 ft AGL over Boonville, North Carolina.  The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) explain in their safety investigation report, issued 1 November 2022, that the pilot, who had 14,000 hours of flying experience, had looked up after radio frequency change to see…

…a “drone hovering” in the path of the helicopter.

He reported that it struck the main rotor disk at the 2 o’clock position and it “disintegrated.” The pilot evaluated the helicopter for vibrations or damage and elected to return to the departure airport, which was 3.5 miles away.

Substantial damage was found on one main rotor blade.

Main Rotor Blade (MRB) Damage to Schweizer 300C N2158T (Credit: NTSB)

A sample was taken at the site of the main rotor blade damage and tested negative for bird DNA.


A search for the unmanned aerial system was performed, however, no device was located.

No Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) authorizations were requested for the area at the time of the accident. Additionally, no operational waivers had been filed with the Federal Aviation Administration for unmanned aerial system operations in the area at the time of the accident.

The NTSB Probable Cause was an inconclusive:

The helicopter’s impact with a non-biological object, which resulted in substantial damage to a main rotor blade.

Safety Resources

The European Safety Promotion Network Rotorcraft (ESPN-R) has a helicopter safety discussion group on LinkedIn.  You may also find these Aerossurance articles of interest:

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