The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a collision between a drone and two military helicopters over Staten Island last month, the federal agency announced Thursday.
The Black Hawk helicopters were flying 500 feet over Midland Beach on the evening of Sept. 21 when the Army says a civilian drone smashed into them. The impact to one of the helicopters was so strong that it dented it, cracked its window and damaged its main rotor blade and transmission deck, according to authorities.
No one was injured, but the damage was severe enough to force the choppers to land in Linden.
The helicopters are part of the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg and were sent to New York to protect the U.N. General Assembly and President Donald Trump last month.
Drone use is already banned in nearly all of New York City; restrictions are even tighter during high-security events like the U.N. General Assembly. Flying at 500 feet, as the drone allegedly was, would also be illegal under the law.
After the crash, investigators were able to track down the drone operator and interview him or her. He or she provided flight data logs for the incident, according to the NTSB. It’s unclear if the drone pilot faces criminal charges.
Investigators are reviewing air traffic control radar data, flight data from the helicopter, flight data logs provided by the drone operator, and FAA airspace and temporary flight restriction documents, the NTSB said.
The NTSB said it’s investigating the incident because the drone was a civilian aircraft. Drone company DJI and the Federal Aviation Administration are also taking part in the investigation. The Army is conducting a separate mishap investigation.