So close that air crews could see their colours
Warning about drones flying dangerously close to planes
DRONES are posing an increasing threat to aircraft around Heathrow Airport, police have warned, following several incidents in less than two months.
The machines have been flown so close to planes near the airport on occasions that the air crew who reported them were able to see what colour they were.
The latest incident happened on Sunday when a drone is believed to have struck a BA plane coming in from Geneva. The plane was flying at 1,700 feet, carrying 132 passengers and five crew at the time.
The flight landed safely and there was found to be no damage to the aircraft.
Officers have warned people they face up to six months in prison for flying drones irresponsibly, or a life sentence if they are shown to have endangered the safety of an aircraft.
Anyone caught flying an unmanned aircraft above 400ft or beyond their eyeline can be convicted under the air navigation order 2009, which carries a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment.
Should their actions cause a pilot to take evasive action, they could be charged with endangering an aircraft and jailed for life.
A spokeswoman for Hounslow police said: “We’re on the flight paths to Heathrow so people flying drones should be sensible about how they do so and make sure they are operating within the law. It could be your loved ones on a plane above whose lives you are endangering.”
The Gazette reported earlier this year how an illegally operated drone came within metres of a plane landing at Heathrow. Pilots are also facing the danger of potentially blinding lasers being deliberately shone at planes around Heathrow , with recorded incidents having rocketed recently.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “The unauthorised use of unmanned aerial vehicles in proximity to an airfield is both irresponsible and illegal.
“Heathrow’s top priority is the safety of our passengers and colleagues.
“The CAA published recently revised guidelines on the use of UAVs and we will continue to work with them and other partners to ensure that any violation of airspace rules is fully prosecuted.”
If you see a drone being flown irresponsibly, you can report it by calling the non-emergency police number 101.
n DANGER: There have been several incidents of drones flying close to aircraft near Heathrow airport