A major Gauteng heliport was grounded for an hour after drones allegedly flew directly in the flight paths of two helicopters.
Ultimate Heliport in Midrand was shut on Monday morning after two drones, which were allegedly being used by Hilti SA to take aerial photographs of a corporate function close to the airport, flew into a designated flight path,
The heliport is used as a base for emergency services Netcare 911 and HALO Aviation, as well as by SBV, Netstar and Bidvest, whose helicopters are used to monitor their cash-in-transit vehicles and search for hijacked cars.
TimesLIVE understands that the first drone was spotted by a helicopter pilot, who alerted air traffic controllers. The second drone, according to Ultimate Heliport staff, was allegedly spotted taking off from Hilti SA premises.
In response to questions, Hilti SA said it was aware of the incident and was in contact with the management of Heliport to clarify the situation.
“Please understand that we cannot comment further for the time being,” the company said.
Ultimate Heliport safety officer Ray van der Watt confirmed to TimesLIVE that the company had laid an official complaint against Hilti SA with the SA Civil Aviation Authority.
He said the drones had been flying within the flight path of the heliport.
“This is very serious. Drones and the availability of drones have skyrocketed. For low-level helicopter flights, from an aviation point of view, we are at the greatest risk because lots of these drones are small, high-performing and capable of flying incredibly high.
“Some have been found at 1,000 feet above ground level, which is getting into helicopter territory,” said Van der Watt.