Crew members said that they heard a “pretty loud bang” shortly before landing. In photos from the local press, significant damage to the nose of the Boeing 737 passenger jet is visible. Grupo Aeromexico SAB started an investigation whether a drone had indeed collided with the passenger jet as it was approaching its destination in Tijuana, Mexico.

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Boeing 737 passenger jet may have collided with a drone

The collision took place on Wednesday, as flight 773 from Guadalajara approached its destination in Tijuana, Mexico. Photos from the local press clearly show the nose of the Boeing 737-800 passenger jet damaged.

According to crew members of the Boeing 737 passenger jet a “pretty loud bang” was heard as the jet approached its destination.

“The exact cause is still being investigated,” Aeromexico said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. “The aircraft landed normally and the passengers’ safety was never compromised.”

The growing popularity of drones

With the growing popularity of drones, the number of drone incidents has risen as well. Many fear that drones, flown close to airports or at high altitudes, can be a grave danger to manned aircraft, especially commercial passenger jets. Since we have launched DroneDJ over one year ago we have seen one drone hitting a military helicopter close to Staten Island, NY, a drone collision with a turboprop in Canada, a very close call with a helicopter, a drone looping over a commercial airplane and a number of other drone incidents.

Most countries, the U.S. included, prohibit flying drones close to airports and above a 400 feet elevation to reduce the risk of drones and manned aircraft colliding. Unfortunately, though, the number of drone incidents keeps growing. Even though this latest collision with a Boeing 737 passenger jet has not been officially confirmed yet as a drone collision, the lack of any visible blood and feathers might indicate that an unmanned aircraft indeed was involved.

Fortunately, the Boing 737 passenger jet proceeded to land safely atGeneral Abelardo L Rodriguez International Airport and nobody was harmed.

Increase in drone incidents

Bloomberg reports that according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) there has been a dramatic increase in the number of safety reports involving drones in recent years. Through June this year, 6,000 drone sighting by pilots and airline crews have been reported.

So far the only two confirmed drone collisions have been the one with the military helicopter close to Staten Island, NY and one with a turboprop carrying six passengers near Quebec on October 12th, 2017. Both of these collisions did not result in any loss of life or other injuries.

Various studies have been performed to estimate that damage that might occur as a result from a drone strike. Based on a 2017 study, the FAA concluded that a drone would cause more damage to an airplane than a bird of similar size because of heavy metal parts such as batteries and motors. The study concluded that significant damage to windshields, wings and tail surfaces was possible but that small consumer drones would probably not cause catastrophic damage. It seems that this possible drone collision with a Boeing 737 passenger jet confirms that as it proceeded to land safely.

Please fly safely and responsibly. Go to the FAA website if you want to learn more about the rules and regulations that apply to all drone pilots. Or check out ‘Buzzy the Drone’ if you want to teach your kids.

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Photo: AFAC Aviacao

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