Looks like a substantial impact, but it would be nice if we could have an investigation before our community is blamed yet again. They thought it was a bird strike, then after landing the Pilot seems to think he might have seen some drone lights. Don Henley was right. We need dirty laundry. Makes for good new segment though.
The media on these events severely impacts the drone community and chips away at any positive report for fire, SAR or form of beneficial drone usage. Just compare the allotted time... a negative drone event receives several minutes air time, a positive event gets a 30 second piece.
It might be worthwhile for them to mention it was outside / above the FAA regulation limits that the vast majority of drone community follow and observe and during the hours of darkness (interview was at night) both violations to FAA Regulations that legal operations drone pilots observe.
I'd like to see media bring attention to the improper use of sUAV and isn't accepted by the drone community and sUAV pilots, and the drone community also frowns on illegal operation of drones.
As example: Car Owners & Drivers aren't lumped into the same general category of improper driving or drinking events or accidents; it's recognized this is unacceptable behavior by other Car Owners or Drivers.
That looks like quite the impact... spanning a good width from dents to puncture.
That impact should rule out the smaller series of drones: Mavic downward.
May have been a self-build constructed craft or a larger platform.
They are very fortunate it was a tail fin impact and not a rotor, that may have resulted in a devastating crash.
It looks like it struck the horizontal stabilizer. It did come pretty close to the tail rotor and I would be surprised if they didn't find some damage to the tail rotor blades.
You can still control a helicopter with out the tail rotor. But you need to keep the airspeed up to somewhat stabilize it. It isn't pretty and you need to do a run on landing with speed. But Helicopter pilots practice control without the tailrotor.
The helicopter was probably travelling 80 to 100 knots so it wouldn't take much of an object to do that kind of damage. I don't understand why they say they believe it was a drone. A bird strike could do that kind of damage too. Or a loose inspection panel coming off the helicopter might do that.