3DR Solo – Accident – 2018-06-08

Drone Manufacturer: 3DR
Drone Model: Solo
Country: United States of America
Type: Accident
Date: 2018-06-08
Applies: Daytime
Pilot Qualifications: Unknown Status
Pilot Flight Experience: Unknown Hours
Link to External Information About This submission: https://www.safecom.gov/safecom/18-0334
File Uploaded: None


At approximately 8:00 a.m. on May 15, 2018, preparations were made to map an intertidal zone monitoring site at low tide using a 3DR Solo UAS outfitted with a MicaSense Rededge camera. The mission plan was to perform a system checkout by doing a short flight, launching the UAS with the payload attached, perform a few basic maneuvers, and ensure aircraft could be manually controlled if subsequent autonomous flights needed to be interrupted, then land and prepare for the full mapping mission. A MicaSense camera was attached but it was not to collect imagery during this initial flight. An autonomous flight plan was created, but it had not been uploaded for the flight. This initial flight was to be a GPS aided manual flight using the Solo App installed on a Samsung Galaxy tablet. The launch site was a gravel beach located within an intertidal zone. The site was leveled and a Hoodman launch pad was placed on top of the gravel to provide a flat, dry, and level surface from which to launch and land the 3DR solo. The aircraft was inspected and emplaced on the launch pad, and both level and compass calibrations were performed. Four Master Airscrew propellers were then placed on the 3DR Solo. Visibility and weather conditions were acceptable for flying. The pilot and visual observer ran through the pre-flight checklist {Aircraft emplaced and powered on, Antennas down, Wifi connected, etc.}, and the aircraft was launched and maneuvered up and out approximated 40 feet in both directions. About 15 seconds into flight, a loud clack sound was heard, and the pilot, visual observer, and a nearby scientist witnessed a propeller fly off from the UAS. The UAS then went into an uncontrolled tumble to the ground, landing in a shallow saltwater tide pool. The impact with ground broke two of the remaining propellers, it caused several severe fractures in the UAS airframe, and caused the camera and UAS battery to separate from the 3DR Solo. The UAS was deemed non-airworthy and taken out of service.

Reported Cause

Loss of propeller.