A member of the public could have caused a serious incident after crashing a drone into an Army helicopter as it flew 500ft above a residential area in New York City.

The Black Hawk aircraft was flying over Midland Beach in Staten Island, New York alongside a another helicopter when it was struck by the civilian drone at 8:15pm on 21 September.

"It struck on the left side of fuselage. There were no adverse impacts to the flight," said Army Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino of the 82nd Airborne. "One blade was damaged, dented in two spots and requires replacement and there is a dented window."

The collision did not cause the helicopter to lose control and it was landed by the paratrooper pilot at nearby airport in New Jersey where the damage was inspected, however authorities have said it could have been a lot worse – potentially fatal.

According the NY Post a local law enforcement source said: "Drones can pose a definite risk to aircraft, especially helicopters. If they smash into a windshield they could cause copter to crash."

"Drones can also distract pilots causing them to lose control.

"Last night, an out-of-control helicopter could have crashed into residential homes causing numerous injuries and even fatalities."

The drone strike was ruled out by the US Army as a "targeted" strike. However, it could would have caused a major scare as the incident occurred during the United Nations General Assembly.

The unknown drone owner is being hunted by the NYPD and military and could find themselves in trouble as it is illegal to fly a drone anywhere except a park. The Federal Aviation Administration has also made it illegal to fly a UAV higher than 400ft in the vicinity of buildings or bridges and cannot be flown within five miles of an airport.

It is not the first time a drone has caused a mid-air scare in New York after a man was arrested in July 2017 for flying his UAV below a commercial airliner as it was landing at JFK Airport.