A British Airways jet came ‘extremely close’ to a drone that was flying 24 times above its legal maximum altitude, report says

A British Airways jet came ‘extremely close’ to a drone that was flying 24 times above its legal maximum altitude, report says
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A collage of a British Airways Airbus A321 and a quadcopter drone against blue skies.
A British Airways aircraft and a drone.

  • A British Airways pilot said a drone flew “extremely close” to their aircraft at 9,600 feet.
  • The Airbus A321 was flying at 250 mph when the drone was spotted, the MailOnline reported.
  • An Airprox report said it was categorized as a high-risk incident.

A British Airways jet had a close call with a drone flying more than 9,000 feet above its legal limit, safety investigators have said.

One of the pilots on the Airbus A321 said they saw an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) appear level with the plane’s nose that then “shot down our right-hand side,” describing it as “extremely close,” per an Airprox report.

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The plane was roughly 30 miles away from London Heathrow Airport when the incident occurred, the report said.

The pilot added that the UAS had been “on a constant bearing with closing distance.”

Recreational drone operators are barred from flying any higher than 400 feet in the UK, according to the Civil Aviation Authority, but this one was recorded at an altitude of 9,600 feet — 24 times the limit.

The incident occurred on January 3, but it was first reported by the MailOnline on March 28.

The Mail’s report said the jet had 180 passengers on board and was flying at 250 mph while on its way back to London from Athens when the encounter took place.

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The aircraft was waiting to join the final flight path to Heathrow when they spotted the rogue drone, per the report.

The drone came within about five feet of the wing and around 30 feet of the cockpit, it added.

The incident was categorized as high risk in the Airprox report.

Researchers at the University of Dayton warned in 2018 that it was “only a matter of time” before a drone strike caused significant damage to a plane.

David Dunn, a drone expert at Birmingham University, highlighted the dangers posed by drones to The Telegraph: “Research shows that a drone collision at speed in the air, through the walls of the aircraft, is enough to down an aircraft.”

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“If a drone was to go through the windscreen of an aircraft, it would certainly incapacitate the crew,” he added.

In 2018, flights were halted at London’s Gatwick Airport after drones were spotted close to a runway. It led to more than 1,000 flights being canceled between December 19 and December 21.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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