Pas­sen­ger jet nearly hits drone at 15,500ft

The Mail on Sunday - - Comment - By An­drew Young

A DRONE fly­ing three miles high came within 100ft of a cat­a­strophic col­li­sion with an air­liner car­ry­ing up to 240 pas­sen­gers, a re­port has re­vealed.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened at the high­est ever al­ti­tude recorded for a near-miss be­tween a drone and an air­craft in UK airspace.

The Air­bus A321 had just taken off and was climb­ing at 380mph when the gadget sud­denly came into view at 15,500ft – nearly 40 times the le­gal max­i­mum.

A re­port by the UK Air­prox Board, which in­ves­ti­gates near-misses, said the pi­lot sud­denly saw a drone pass ‘very close’ down the left-hand side of the plane, en­dan­ger­ing it and other air­craft.

The re­port con­cluded that the de­vice, spot­ted on June 3 near Don­caster Sh­effield Air­port in South York­shire, was so high it would have been im­pos­si­ble for its op­er­a­tor to see.

Drone op­er­a­tors are only per­mit­ted to fly be­low 400ft and those who put the safety of an air­craft in jeop­ardy can be jailed for five years.

Near misses in­volv­ing drones have tripled over the last two years with 92 re­ported last year and just 29 in 2015.

A spokesman for the UK Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity said: ‘It is to­tally un­ac­cept­able to fly drones close to air­ports or air­craft.’

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