Aviation Experts Warn of Disaster After Drone’s Near-Miss With Airbus

A drone narrowly missed a commercial aircraft coming in to land at Heathrow in the second such incident in less than a year.

The object, widely believed to be a drone, was flown over the Airbus A320 at 1,700ft as it approached the runway at Heathrow, flying within 50ft of the aircraft.

The pilot reported that the object was ‘rectangular and appeared to be propellor driven’, indicating that it was a remote-controlled drone, according to a report by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB).

Aviations authorities have condemned the incidents as ‘irresponsible’.

According to The Times, the recent incident is the fourth recorded near-miss between a plane and an unmanned aircraft at a British airport.

Drones are available to anyone and can be bought for under £100 while more expensive models, which can cost up to £30,000, are capable of flying to around 11,000ft.

While some are used for commercial reasons, such as filming aerial shots for movies, capturing news footage or for surveillance, drones are becoming increasingly popular as ‘toys’ with high-street store Marlins selling more than 10,000 in 2014.

Despite being used as playthings, drones are still classified as ‘aircraft’ by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which provides strict guidelines on their use.

The rules state that drones should not be flown within 150m of built-up areas, or over crowds of more than 1,000 people or within 50m of any vehicle that is not under the user’s control - which would include aircraft. Users must keep drones within their sight at all times.

According to a survey carried out by the British Airline Pilots Assosociation (BALPA), more than half (52%) of the British public think that those who endanger an aircraft while flying a drone should be given a prison sentence.

(Image credit: PA)

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