Published on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Passenger jet narrowly misses drone over Heathrow

A flight carrying 160 passengers narrowly missed being hit by a drone as it took off from Heathrow.

The pilot of the Airbus A319 said there was no time to take evasive action as the unmanned medium-sized drone passed within 20 feet of the aircraft as it was climbing over west London.

The incident happened at 4,800 feet, more than 10 times the legal maximum height for operating a drone.

A report by the UK Airprox Boad classified the incident, which happened at 11.33 on January 7, as Category A, meaning there was a serious risk of a collision.

"The Board considered that the pilot's estimate of separation, allied to his overall account of the incident and his inability to avoid the drone portrayed a situation where providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed," it said.

British pilots' union BALPA is demanding steps are taken to curb the use of drones close to airports following a rise in near misses, such as this one. It also wants to see better education for users of drones and high-profile prosecutions of offenders.

In October last year, a small passenger jet was struck by a drone as it came in to land at Quebec airport in Canada at a height of about 450 metres. There were no injuries and the plane landed safely.


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  • License for drones

    It has been mooted that all drone purchases should also require a license to own and with clear flying instructions . Failure to own a license should result in a minimum fine and possible criminal conviction.

    By Michael Edwards, Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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