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A drone has hit a commercial plane in London

132 passengers were on board the British Airways flight from Geneva. No one was injured in the incident.

Plane hit by drone File photo of a British Airways Airbus A320 Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

AN OBJECT, SUSPECTED to be a drone, has struck a commercial flight in London.

It’s believed to be the first incident of its kind in British aerospace.

The British Airways Airbus A320 was approaching Heathrow for landing at roughly 12.50pm yesterday afternoon en route from Geneva when its pilot reported it was hit by an object.

137 people were on board the plane, 132 passengers and five crew members.

London’s Metropolitan Police said the pilot “believed a drone had struck the aircraft”.

“The flight landed at Heathrow Terminal Five safely,” a Met spokesperson said.

It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft.
The incident is being investigated by aviation police based at Heathrow.

No arrests have been made as police inquiries continue.

A BA spokesman said the plane had been examined after landing and was cleared to operate its next flight.

Plane hit by drone A Phantom 2 drone in flight Source: Andrew Matthews

“Safety and security are always our first priority and we will give the police every assistance with their investigation,” the spokesman said.

Headache

Drones have become something of a headache for the commercial aviation industry as their popularity with private users continues to grow.

While restrictions are placed on both the altitude that drones can fly at and their use in proximity to airports, the problem continues to escalate given a certain level of ignorance of the law (and of the inherent risks) on the part of the public.

The UK Airprox Board, an air safety agency, said last month there were 23 near-misses between drones and aircraft in the six months between April and October last year.

In one incident on 22 September 2015 a Boeing 777 reported narrowly passing a drone as it was taking off.

Investigators concluded that the drone was at the same height as the aircraft and within 25 metres of it.

A drone then came within a few metres of an Airbus A319 landing at Heathrow only a few days later on 30 September.

“It was only a matter of time before we had a drone strike given the huge numbers being flown around by amateurs who don’t understand the risks and the rules,” said Steve Landells, flight safety specialist at the British Airline Pilots Association.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said it was “totally unacceptable” to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules faced possible imprisonment.

Under British legislation, drones cannot be flown near planes, helicopters and airports and must be kept below 400 feet (122 metres).

With AFP

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