Au­thor­ity warn over drone near-misses

Hobby air­crafts found fly­ing close to air­ports

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Nathan Spen­de­low

SAFETY warn­ings have been is­sued af­ter a num­ber of cases of air­craft nearly hit­ting un­manned drones in Heathrow.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity said an Air­bus A320’s wing passed 6m (20ft) be­low one of the hobby air­crafts which had been hov­er­ing at the air­port.

The CAA recorded six other in­ci­dents be­tween May 2014 and March 2015 at air­ports around the UK in­volv­ing near misses be­tween drones and planes.

The CAA has launched a new drone aware­ness ini­tia­tive in or­der to tar­get the in­creas­ing num­ber of recre­ational drone users in the UK.

Di­rec­tor of pol­icy Tim John­son said: “We want to em­brace and en­able the in­no­va­tion that arises from the de­vel­op­ment of drone tech­nol­ogy, but we must en­sure that this is done safely, with all airspace users in mind.

“It is im­per­a­tive that peo­ple ob­serve the rules when op­er­at­ing a drone.

“Drone users must un­der­stand that when tak­ing to the skies they are en­ter­ing one of the busiest ar­eas of airspace in the world – a com­plex sys­tem that brings to­gether all man­ner of air­craft in­clud­ing pas­sen­ger aero­planes, mil­i­tary jets, he­li­copters, glid­ers, light air­craft and now drones.

“When do­ing so, they must be aware of the rules and reg­u­la­tions for fly­ing drones that are de­signed to keep all air users safe.”

On July 22, 2014 a plane mak­ing its way in to land at Heathrow Air­port had a near-miss when it al­most col­lided with a con­trol­lable drone.

The Air­bus A320 was on its fi­nal ap­proach when the pi­lot spot­ted a small black ob­ject fly over the air­craft’s wing, around 20ft away. Thank­fully, the plane landed safely and air traf­fic con­trol was in­formed.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened at 700ft and ef­forts to trace the drone op­er­a­tor were not suc­cess­ful.

The near-miss was classed as cat­e­gory A – the most se­ri­ous clas­si­fi­ca­tion where a risk of col­li­sion was high.

A Heathrow spokesman said: “The unau­tho­rised use of un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles (UAV) in prox­im­ity to an air­field is both ir­re­spon­si­ble and illegal.

“Heathrow’s top pri­or­ity is the safety of our pas­sen­gers and staff. Any vi­o­la­tion of airspace rules is fully pros­e­cuted.”

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