A DRONE which crashed into a boat at the Henley Royal Regatta, narrowly missing its occupants, could have killed someone, according to a report.

The 28kg (62lb) aircraft had been supplying footage of the annual rowing event when its battery ran out on June 29 last year.

A total of six people had been on board the boat but no-one was injured. However, the boat did suffer dents.

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An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said ‘someone could have been killed’.

It said the licensed operator could not remember checking the battery before the flight and the warning indicator had been set to a lower level than recommended by the manufacturer.

The AAIB report said: ‘Fatal injuries would have occurred if the 28kg aircraft falling at 30 metres per second had struck a person on the boat’.

It added that the Alta X aircraft was being commercially operated from a pontoon by the licensed pilot who, at 11.20am, had been filming the 35th race of the day.

The pilot said he planned to change the batteries on every third flight but records indicated it was making its sixth consecutive flight on the same charge.

A private boat, the Celtic Queen, had been travelling on the uncontrolled side of the river, away from the racing, when a battery warning activated on the drone's controller.

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The AAIB said: "Had the battery warning been set to the manufacturer's recommended setting, the aircraft may have been landed safely under the pilot's control."


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland