Foot­ball-sized drone posed risk to Air­bus

De­vice flew within 20 me­tres of pas­sen­ger jet

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Neil Lancefield ed­i­to­ri­aluxbridge@trin­i­tysouth.co.uk

A DRONE the size of a foot­ball was flown as close as 20 me­tres from a pas­sen­ger jet, risk­ing the lives of pas­sen­gers, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has said.

The Air­bus A320’s first of­fi­cer shouted ‘look’ as the de­vice passed next to the right wing at around 11,000ft above London, the UK Air­prox Board (UKAB) said.

A mi­nor­ity of drone op­er­a­tors are ‘fla­grantly dis­re­gard­ing reg­u­la­tion and com­mon sense’ in pur­suit of ‘ever more spec­tac­u­lar video footage’, the board warned.

The in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the A320 was as­sessed as hav­ing the most se­ri­ous de­gree of risk.

There was in­suf­fi­cient time for the flight crew to take ac­tion to avoid a po­ten­tial col­li­sion with the drone, which had a flash­ing ma­genta light.

It was at the same al­ti­tude and passed just 20 to 40 me­tres from the air­craft.

Air traffic con­trol was im­me­di­ately alerted to the near miss, which oc­curred at 6.05pm on Au­gust 4, when the air­liner was in a hold­ing pat­tern over Big­gin Hill, used for flights ap­proach­ing Heathrow Air­port .

De­tails were passed to the Metropoli­tan Po­lice but the drone op­er­a­tor could not be traced.

The UKAB con­cluded the per­son fly­ing the drone had en­dan­gered the A320 and its oc­cu­pants while fly­ing in re­stricted airspace with­out per­mis­sion.

Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity rules also state that drones should not be flown above 400 feet.

A col­li­sion ‘had only been nar­rowly avoided’ and chance had played a ‘ma­jor part’, the re­port noted.

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