‘Drone was flown de­lib­er­ately at plane to cause mid-air col­li­sion’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - QASIM PERACHA

A DRONE was flown de­lib­er­ately at a plane land­ing at RAF Northolt in a bid to cause a mid-air col­li­sion, a re­port has con­firmed.

The UK Air­prox Board (UKAB) in­ves­ti­gated a near-miss be­tween a PA31 light air­craft and a drone on June 11 near RAF Northolt in Hilling­don. At times the drone was just 20 feet be­low the plane as it came in to land.

UKAB clas­si­fied the in­ci­dent as hav­ing the most se­ri­ous de­gree of risk.

Its re­port, based mainly on the rec­ol­lec­tion of the pi­lot of the PA31 plane, stated: “He lost sight of it un­der the nose and looked down at the wing root and iden­ti­fied it as a small white drone of the light­weight hob­by­ist type. It was about 20ft be­low the air­craft as he passed over it. He re­ported that he had no doubt it was be­ing de­lib­er­ately flown un­der the flight path in an at­tempt to col­lide with an air­craft.”

The doc­u­ment went on: “He re­ported that the drone had passed close to his right wing and that it was pos­si­bly launched from a park.”

The num­ber of near-misses re­ported with drones has in­creased from six re­ported in­ci­dents in 2014 to 93 in 2017.

Re­search part­funded by the De­part­ment for Trans­port (DfT) found that a drone weigh­ing 400 grams could smash a he­li­copter wind­screen, while one weigh­ing 2kg could crit­i­cally dam­age an air­liner’s wind­screen. The DfT is con­sid­er­ing ban­ning chil­dren from own­ing drones weigh­ing at least 250 grams as part of a safety crack­down. Chil­dren would only be able to fly the heav­ier de­vices if they were owned and regis­tered by an adult. Other mea­sures as part of a con­sul­ta­tion launched last month in­clude giv­ing po­lice the power to is­sue on­the-spot fines of up to £300 for mis­use and the abil­ity to seize drones be­ing used ir­re­spon­si­bly. The DfT is also con­sid­er­ing us­ing new tech­nol­ogy to pro­tect pub­lic events, crit­i­cal na­tional in­fra­struc­ture and pris­ons from drone dis­rup­tion. Drones are banned from fly­ing

He re­ported that he had no doubt it was be­ing de­lib­er­ately flown...in an at­tempt to col­lide with an air­craft

above 400ft and within one kilo­me­tre (0.6 miles) of air­port bound­aries.

Any­one breach­ing th­ese re­stric­tions face penal­ties of up to £2,500 and could also be charged with reck- lessly or neg­li­gently act­ing in a man­ner likely to en­dan­ger an air­craft or any per­son in an air­craft, which has a max­i­mum sen­tence of five years in prison.

A drone weigh­ing 2kg could crit­i­cally dam­age an air­liner’s wind­screen

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