Quantifying Risk of Ground Impact Fatalities for Small Unmanned Aircraft

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
478 Downloads (Pure)


One of the major challenges of conducting operation of unmanned aircraft, especially operations beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS), is to make a realistic and sufficiently detailed risk assessment. An important part of such an assessment is to identify the risk of fatalities, preferably in a quantitative way since this allows for comparison with manned aviation to determine whether an equivalent level of safety is achievable. This work presents a method for quantifying the probability of fatalities resulting from an uncontrolled descent of an unmanned aircraft conducting a BVLOS flight. The method is based on a standard stochastic model, and employs a parameterized high fidelity ground impact distribution model that accounts for both aircraft specifications, parameter uncertainties, and wind. The method also samples the flight path to create an almost continuous quantification of the risk as a function of mission flight time. The methodology is exemplified with a 180 km flight in Danish airspace with a Penguin C aircraft.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)367-384
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019


  • Aviation safety
  • Ground impact
  • Probability of fatality
  • Stochastic modeling
  • Unmanned aircraft


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying Risk of Ground Impact Fatalities for Small Unmanned Aircraft'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Advisor to JARUS

    Anders la Cour-Harbo (Participant), Terrence Martin (Participant), Tom Putland (Participant), Tony Nannini (Participant), Henri Hohtari (Participant) & Joerg Dittrich (Participant)

    Impact: Public policy impact

Cite this