British Airways Pilot Claims Drone Came Into Contact with Aircraft

Update: see previous posts – March 20, 2016 Drones in Canada Require Insurance Liability Coverage, February 10, 2016 Transport Canada – Flying a Drone Recreationally, June 1, 2015 Canada: New Drone (Unmanned Air Vehicles – UAV’s) Laws on the Horizon

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A Pilot reported to police, that an object, believed to be a drone, struck the front of the British Airways passenger aircraft he was piloting, as he was attempting to land at Britain’s Heathrow Airport. photo by commons.wikimedia.org

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Increasing reports of near-misses between drones and commercial aircraft

A British Airways passenger aircraft was hit by what most likely was a drone as it prepared to land at Britain’s Heathrow Airport, police said, increasing worries about the risks posed by increasing civil drone use.

Police said the pilot of the BA flight from Geneva had reported that he believed a drone had struck the aircraft before it landed safely on Sunday at Terminal 5.

Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch confirmed on Monday that it had launched an investigation into an incident involving an unmanned air vehicle and a passenger aircraft at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.

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Transport Canada’s current guidelines say drones should be flown at least nine kilometres away from airports, no higher than 90 metres above the ground and at least 150 metres away from people, buildings and vehicles. Updated laws are coming according to Transport Canada spokespeople. photo by www.engadget.com

The use of civil drones, whether for commercial purposes such as crop surveillance, monitoring of natural disasters, photography or just as a leisure activity, is rising. That popularity has led to increasing reports of near-misses with commercial aircraft.

The European Commission has conceded that “drone accidents will happen”, while the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority last year issued a warning after seven incidents in less than a year where drones had flown near planes at different British airports.

Pilots’ associations and others have called for drones to be fitted with geo-fencing technology, which uses GPS software to stop them straying into certain areas, along with height and distance limits. They also call for registration of drones.

Currently Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $25,000 for improper use of a recreational drone, depending on the circumstances, such as whether a drone user is “wilfully violating airspace” or posing a threat to an aircraft trying to land. photo by www.cityofslt.us

Commenting on the latest incident, the British Airlines Pilots Association said that more education for drone users and stronger enforcement of the rules around drones were needed to keep aircraft safe.

“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,” BALPA flight safety specialist Stephen Landells said.

British Airways, which is owned by IAG, said in its statement that the aircraft, which had 132 customers and five crew on board, was fully examined by engineers before being cleared to operate its next flight.

The incident was reported to police by the pilot after the flight landed at about 6:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.

“It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft,” the police said.

The incident on Sunday followed another at Heathrow in February, when a New York-bound plane was forced to return to the airport after a “laser beam incident”.

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Technology has been created in the U.K. to bring down Drones or their technical name, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s). This technology has a strong directional antenna which can target the Drone and simultaneously drown it out with radio waves. These radio waves will prevent the original Drone operator from controlling the Drone and will stop the Drone in its’ tracks. photo by http://www.enterprisecontrol.co.uk
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