Rescue helicopter's near-miss with drone at Broadmeadow

A NEAR-miss between a Westpac rescue helicopter and a drone above Broadmeadow is under investigation by safety authorities.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will interview the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service crew involved in the incident, which occurred near the crew’s Broadmeadow base on Saturday night.

The helicopter was returning from the John Hunter Hospital about 10pm when it spotted lights at about 1000 feet.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service spokesman Glen Ramplin said the crew originally thought the lights belonged to a larger aircraft further away.

When they realised it was a smaller object nearby, the crew took evasive action to avoid a collision.

‘‘We’ve seen quite a few [drones] around but this one was at quite a height,’’ Mr Ramplin said.

‘‘If you had run into it, it could [have been dangerous].’’

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s report is expected in June.

The bureau is also investigating two hot air ballooon incidents in the Hunter over recent months.

A balloon spotted in restricted airspace west of Maitland Airport on Saturday is also under investigation.

Three separate crews reported spotting the balloon in the area as it descended towards Cessnock, the ATSB website shows.Separately, a report on a balloon draping over power lines at Broke in December is due this month.


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