Glasgow drone and airliner near-miss ups tally of terrible UAV pilot infractions

near-miss drone airliner

Alas, yet another report has come down of a close call between a passenger plane and an illegally operated uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) – this time from Scotland. The near-miss incident involved a drone coming within 100 feet of a commercial airliner during its approach to Glasgow’s Paisley Airport – and at night to boot.

Nighttime incident above the 400-feet limit for UAV

The drama in Scottish skies occurred on July 24, but was only reported Thursday by local media. Though the near-miss between the drone and airliner apparently occurred somewhere beyond the 5-kilometer no-fly zone around the airport, the pilot was violating at least two regulations all the same. According to police, the sighting was reported by the airplane’s pilots at 11:50 p.m., hours after Glasgow’s 9:31 p.m. July sunsets. Meantime, the altitude of the approaching plane indicates the drone was in violation of the UK’s maximum 400-feet height limitations.

Scottish police scrambled to the area in pursuit of the UAV’s pilot, but came up empty. A spokesman was quoted as saying that a search remains under way for owner of the “drone flying in close proximity to (the) aircraft,” and issued a reminder about the serious dangers of breaking flight regulations.

“It goes without saying that drones can, and do, present a very real hazard to aircraft and all due diligence must be given when flying unmanned aerial vehicles,” he said. “Anyone found to be flying a drone or similar craft in a reckless or negligent manner will be dealt with robustly.”

Mounting count of drone-airliner near-miss events

Saturday’s near-miss between the drone and airliner was only the latest of troubling incidents involving UAV pilots clearly in the wrong. 

In May, an incoming passenger flight to Edinburgh’s airport reported it had narrowly missed a suspected drone at an altitude of 2,200 feet. Earlier this month, a Scottish air ambulance helicopter said it had come close to colliding with a drone flying at 1,500 feet. And in March, a drone flew within a few feet of an air ambulance chopper hovering at 500 feet as it waited to land on a London hospital roof.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, authorities in Finland revealed a May near-miss between a drone and airliner at Helsinki’s airport. According to the DroneDJ article on the incident by Scott Simmie, the official report noted the “aircraft was at an altitude of approximately 400 meters at the time.”

“The estimated flight location is in the restricted UAS geographical zone established to protect Helsinki Airport, where flight is allowed at an altitude of up to 15 meters above obstacles in the immediate vicinity of obstacles,” it continued – meaning the drone and its pilot were violating two no-brainer flight prohibitions in a single, dangerous move.

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