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Drone Camera Close-Call at Ski Event

Source - BBC Sport / © 2015 BBC

A Learning Lesson for All:  

A camera-flying UAS (drone) crashed into the snow close behind a skier on a slalom run at a World Cup competition event in Italy on Tuesday 12/22.   The aircraft was being operated by InFront Sports and Media, a Europe-based company involved in sports marketing and production services. They were operating with permission, it is reported, from the International Ski Federation (FIS), the event organizer.

The UAS involved appears to be an eight engine aircraft, with engine/prop pairs on four arms. The event was aired in the U.S. by NBC Universal Sports.

After the crash, InFront Sports posted this message on its website:

During the slalom race of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Madonna di Campiglio/Italy in the evening of 22 December 2015, an unmanned drone carrying a broadcast camera crashed to the snow during the second run of Austrian ski racer Marcel Hirscher.   We are extremely relieved that apparently no one was hurt. At the same time, this incident is being taken‎ very serious and the circumstances leading to it are currently being examined. An update will be provided as soon as secured information is available.

An early report indicated FIS would ban drones from future event coverage, but a later statement from FIS seemed to back-away from that. From the FIS website:

While FIS and its partners aim to use new technology to enhance the fan experience, an accident such as the drone crash cannot happen again. Even if – unlike in Austria, Switzerland and other countries – drones are authorized to fly over a crowd during events in Italy, FIS and the host broadcaster will work together with all the involved parties to see what occurred during the crash and ensure that this will not happen again.

So, for all of you video news/sports/production operators, let this serve as a cautionary tale.

Here’s a BBC report, with video, on the incident: