Drone in near miss with pas­sen­ger jet

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE -


ADRONE flown in Mac­cles­field came close to col­lid­ing with a pas­sen­ger plane, it has been re­vealed.

An avi­a­tion watch­dog said it was one of three ‘near-misses’ close to Manch­ester Air­port last year.

This in­cludes a black Quad­copter, which was re­ported hov­er­ing at 5,000 ft – 4,600ft above the le­gal height – near Gawsworth.

Ex­perts are warn­ing the risk of a col­li­sion will in­crease as drones grow in pop­u­lar­ity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

The plane, a Boe­ing 757, was de­part­ing Manch­ester on May 8 when the cap­tain spot­ted a black dot which ‘bloomed’ into what looked like a black Quad­copter, which was up to 1m wide.

With no time to re­act, the air­craft passed slightly above and to the right of the ob­ject.

The pi­lot re­ported that it was ‘ a very fright­en­ing’ in­ci­dent and said the ob­ject was 500m from hit­ting the plane.

The in­ci­dent was re­ported to Air Traf­fic Con­trol, which in­structed air­craft be­hind to turn in or­der to keep them clear of the re­ported drone.

The drone’s op­er­a­tor was never traced, said the re­port from UK Air­prox Board, which mon­i­tors in­ci­dents in UK airspace.

This ‘se­vere’ near-miss was one of 20 na­tion­ally last year.

The Bri­tish Air­line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion is call­ing for stricter rules and a reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem so drone oper­a­tors have to ‘un­lock’ their de­vice on­line. They also want ‘geo-fenc­ing’ to phys­i­cally pre­vent drones from be­ing flown near air­ports and in flight paths.

For­mer pi­lot Stephen Lan­dells, of the Bri­tish Air­lines Pi­lot As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “We want peo­ple to un­der­stand that th­ese things are great fun but they also have mas­sive po­ten­tial to cause dam­age and in­jury. If one went down an en­gine of a com­mer­cial air­line, it would al­most cer­tainly stop the en­gine. Would it crash? We don’t know. But be­cause of the big lithium iron bat­tery it could make the en­gine ex­plode and any­thing could hap­pen – bits of metal could poke holes in the air­craft.

A Manch­ester Air­port spokesman said: “Drones con­tinue to in­crease in pop­u­lar­ity but what peo­ple aren’t aware of are the po­ten­tial risks they can cause to air­craft across the UK. If they pass into our airspace they can cause is­sues which may re­sult in de­lays for our air­lines and pas­sen­gers.

“When you fly a drone in the UK it is your re­spon­si­bil­ity to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep ev­ery­one safe.

●● The paint­ing by WH Pow­nall go­ing up for auc­tion next month

●● Map from a re­port into the near col­li­sion

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