A computer glitch that causes Thales Watchkeeper 450 (WK450) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to mistakenly think they have landed has not been fixed, according to a new inquiry report released by the UK Defence Safety Authority (DSA).
Problems with the WK450’s laser-altimeter makes the UAV’s fight control system shut down on final approach to runways in bad weather, causing the aircraft to crash. This issue first led to the loss of a Watchkeeper in October 2014. However, according to a new service inquiry report from the DSA released on 15 December, the problem has not been solved yet.
This report into a second WK450 crash on 2 November 2015 suggests that as well as not fixing the technical problems, the Royal Artillery, which operates the 54 strong Watchkeeper fleet, is still struggling to infuse “air mindedness” into its UAV personnel and it will take time to turn these shortcomings around.