Drone in near miss with passenger jet
STUART GREER AND CHARLOTTE COX
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