Monday 19 March 2018

Drone almost crashed into passenger jet near British Houses of Parliament

The British Houses of Parliament
The British Houses of Parliament

Georgina Stubbs

A drone came within metres of colliding with a passenger jet near the Houses of Parliament, a report has revealed.

The "silver drone with a balloon-like centre and four small rotors on each corner" was spotted by the pilot of the Embraer 170 at 2,000ft on September 13 2015.

Assessing the risk of collision as "high," according to the report published by UK Airprox Board, the pilot estimated that it was pure chance they did not hit each other.

The flight had been passing in the vicinity of the Houses of Parliament at a speed of about 184mph as it came in to land at London City Airport.

It was estimated by the pilot that the drone came within 20 metres (65ft) of the jet, which can carry up to 76 passengers, passing down the left hand side of the aircraft.

With the drone operator posing a "flight safety risk," and flying the craft without permission, the incident was classed as category A by the board - the most serious, where a high chance of collision existed.

The report also reveals that there were five other incidents involving drones between August and September last year.

Three near-misses involved passenger planes either coming into land or flying out of large UK airports, including Manchester, Stansted and Heathrow.

One pilot flying a B777 jet on September 22 at 2,000ft said the drone "just missed the tip of the starboard wing".

While the pilot of a B737 flying out of Stansted on September 13 said the drone passed just three to four metres above the jet.

None of the drone operators in these cases, including the incident above central London, could be traced.

Current rules on the uses of drones state that drones must not be flown in any way that could endanger people or property.

It is illegal for unmanned aircraft to be flown over streets, towns and cities - and they must be kept well clear of airports and airfields.

A spokesman for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said those operating a drone must do so responsibly - observing all the relevant rules and regulations.

They added: "Drone users have to understand that when taking to the skies they are potentially flying close to one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world - a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders and light aircraft.

"The rules for flying drones are designed to keep all airspace users safe and anyone flouting these rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment."

Press Association

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