Drone misses windshield of approaching passenger jet by about 5 feet

Today we learned about a very close call between a passenger jet that was about to land at London Heathrow and a drone that was flying at an elevation where it wasn’t supposed to be. The drone flew so close to the passenger jet that the crew thought it must have hit the tail of the airplane after it only missed the windshield by a mere five feet.

Five feet between the window and the drone

According to a report by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), a three or four-engine white drone came to within 5 feet over the first officer’s windshield. So close in fact that the crew thought it must have hit the Lodon-bound passenger jet. The report states:

“The crew considered that the drone passed close enough that it must have collided with the tail.”

The airplane, an Airbus 321 was flying over Kew in west London approaching Heathrow airport when it nearly hit the drone. After landing the aircraft was inspected by engineers but the found “no tangible evidence of collision”.

According to Sky News, the drone incident occurred on October 25, 2017, as the Airbus flew at an altitude of 1,700 feet. The UKAB report classified the incident as the highest possible risk. In the UK the maximum altitude at which drones are allowed to fly is 400 feet just as in the US.

The UKAB report did not disclose the identity of the aircraft involved but concludes that:

“Providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed.”

New rules are being drafted in the UK that will require drone pilots to register their unmanned aerial aircrafts and complete a safety awareness tests.

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