plane drone collision

Light aircraft narrowly escapes “deliberate” drone collision

Image credit: Dreamstime

A light aircraft and a drone nearly collided earlier this year as the aircraft came in to land at RAF Northolt in west London, according to its pilot.

The near-miss happened on 11 June and the drone was thought to be just six metres below the plane, a twin-engined Piper PA31.

A report by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), based on the recollection of the PA31 pilot, stated: “He lost sight of it under the nose and looked down at the wing root and identified it as a small white drone of the lightweight hobbyist type; it was about 20 feet below the aircraft as he passed over it.

“He reported that he had no doubt that it was being deliberately flown under the flight path in an attempt to collide with an aircraft.”

The document went on: “He reported that the drone had passed close to his right wing and that it was possibly launched from a park.”

The UKAB classified the incident as having the most serious degree of risk.

Earlier this year the government laid out new regulations governing the use of drones in the UK including measures to prevent drone operators from flying their unmanned aircraft near airports. 

Research part-funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) found that a drone weighing 400 grams could smash a helicopter windscreen, and one weighing 2kg could critically damage an airliner’s windscreen.

The number of near-misses between drones and aircraft has risen from six events in 2014 to 92 last year. 

The DfT is considering banning children from owning drones weighing 250 grams or more as part of a safety crackdown.

Children would only be able to fly the heavier devices if they were owned and registered by an adult.

Other measures included in a consultation launched last month include giving police the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £300 for misuse and the ability to seize drones being used irresponsibly.

Drones are currently banned from flying above 120 metres, and within one kilometre of airport boundaries.

Anyone breaching these restrictions faces penalties of up to £2,500 and could also be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft, which has a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Last month a charity used drones equipped with live-streamed video to track down homeless people who are sleeping rough in countryside areas. 

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