At precisely 08:55 UTC today 10 September 2023, there was a report of an orange drone flying southbound over ILIOUP point, a critical airspace. The drone was reported at an altitude of 2800’ MSL (2000’ AGL).

At the time the drone was spotted, two helicopters were in close proximity, adding to the potential risk of collision.

The drone was noticed moving southbound and reported to the ATC by the helicopter flying also southbound at 3000’ while the other helicopter was slightly lower, at 2500’ moving northbound. Both helicopters were on the established VFR route HELLINIKON – ILIOUP – HOLARGOS within Athínai TMA CLASS D airspace. This puts into sharp focus the potential dangers unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) present when operating without clearances in controlled airspaces.

It’s worth noting that drones, especially those used recreationally, have specific flight restrictions to ensure the safety of all airspace users. Flying above 400’ AGL without the necessary approvals is against the HCAA (Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority) regulations, let alone within controlled airspace (Athínai TMA) and on established VFR route where manned aircraft are present in a continuous basis.

Luckily, no incident or collision was reported today, but the presence of the drone in such close proximity to two helicopters serves as a timely reminder of the importance of responsible drone operation. It’s crucial for drone operators to be aware of local regulations, no-fly zones, and potential risks.

For all aviation enthusiasts and drone pilots, this is a potent lesson: safety should always come first. Proper knowledge, training, and adherence to regulations are paramount for ensuring that the skies remain safe for everyone.