A passenger plane flying in London had a “very near miss” with a drone as it approached Heathrow Airport, a report has found.
With around 165 passengers on board, the Airbus A320 was on its final approach to Heathrow when the pilot saw the drone through the cockpit window. The aircraft was 650ft east of The Shard at the time, at about five times its height.
There was no time for evasive action, according to a newly-released report on the 18 July incident. Chance played a “major part” in preventing an accident.
According to the plane’s crew, the drone then passed over the right wing tip of the plane.
Pilots say it is only a matter of time before a drone collides with a passenger jet, reports the Daily Mail.
“At one stage, a close call was being reported every week,” says the newspaper. “Twenty-three near-misses between aircraft and drones were investigated in just one six month period. Of these 12 were given the most serious rating of risk.”
There are no specific regulations on the height that drones weighing less than 7kg may be flown, says the newspaper. They can be bought for as little as £500.
In April this year, a British Airways pilot said his plane, also an Airbus A320, struck a drone as it landed at Heathrow from Geneva. The flight landed safely with no serious damage.
Weeks later, air traffic investigators said there was no evidence to support the claim that the plane had hit a drone, although they could not rule out the possibility.
Transport minister Robert Goodwill told the public not to “overreact too much” because the object that hit the plane could just have been a plastic bag.