TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video surfaced Sunday (Oct. 25) showing a Chinese-made drone suddenly dive towards the ground and crash in front of the audience during an air show.
On Saturday (Oct. 24), the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and the People's Government of Zhejiang Province held an air show called the "International Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Innovation Competition" in Hangzhou, China. During the event, a "Predator" unmanned helicopter developed by Hangzhou Star Low Altitude Helicopter Development Co. Ltd. and hailed as one of the "trailblazers" in the development of China's drone industry suddenly suffered a catastrophic crash.
On Sunday, Chinese netizen 野山, on his Twitter feed (@naochashu), posted footage of the drone's entire ill-fated flight. In the video, after the drone took off, an announcer stated that the fuselage of the aircraft is 7.25 meters long, 2.3 meters high, and 1.5 meters wide, with the diameter of the rotor reaching 6 meters.
The host then boasted that the helicopter can reach an altitude of 3,000 meters, fly for two hours, carry a maximum load of 200 kilograms, and has a maximum range of up to 200 kilometers. As the host spoke, the pilotless chopper whirred back and forth in front of a sparse crowd of onlookers.
Its movements began to appear to be increasingly erratic as it struggled to maintain a level attitude and linear flight path. During its final run past the crowd, it suddenly started to accelerate and rapidly climb in altitude.
Its operator swung the rotorcraft back around as it started to dip downwards. The helicopter started to level off but suddenly took a nosedive and plowed into the ground, prompting the announcer to exclaim "oi!"
The drone crashed near the spot from where it had originally taken off, and as it did so, the rotor ripped through a billboard promoting Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping's (習近平) environmental slogan "Clear waters and green mountains." Fortunately, no one appeared to be injured as it crashed several meters away from the crowd.
Although the impact turned the drone into an unrecognizable pile of metal, its motor continued to buzz incessantly. The clip ends with a ground crew member rushing towards the drone to possibly shut it down, while the announcer stammers and struggles to say something coherent.
According to a report released on Weibo that day by China's state-run media outlet Sina Zhejiang, authorities "cannot rule out" the possibility that the crash was caused by "improper operation." Footage in the post showed the drone bursting into flames and belching black smoke as firemen rushed to the scene to contain the blaze.
The report claimed that the fire department extinguished the fire and that no persons were injured by the incident. In a rare act of defiance, Chinese netizens mocked the air show and operators of the drone:
"Blew [bragged] right through the cowhide."
"It didn't even reach its purported distance and height, and just like that fell down."
"This was a demonstration of a crash and fire?"
"I think the product quality is not good enough."