What is believed to be a drone is reported to have hit a British Airways plane as it landed at Heathrow airport on Sunday. This is the first confirmed incident of its kind in the UK.
The flight, a British Airways Airbus A320 returning from Geneva, landed safely but reported having been ‘struck by an object’ which is now thought to have been a drone.
Thankfully, after an examination by engineers, no serious damage was recorded and the plane was quickly cleared for its next flight.
The Metropolitan Police have already begun an investigation into the event, with their aviation security unit taking charge of the case.
Sunday’s close call was foreshadowed by a warning earlier this year from the head of the International Air Transport Association that drones flown by the public are "a real and growing threat" to civilian aircraft.
This isn’t the first time that drones have encroached on UK airspace. One incident saw one flying within 50ft of a plane (travelling at 2,800ft) over Manchester airport in August 2015, four similar issues were reported in September and there was another in November when an Airbus A321 narrowly avoided hitting a drone which was hovering 100ft over Gatwick airport.
Rules established by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) prohibit flying unmanned aircraft beyond the pilot’s Visual Line of Site (VLOS) or near buildings and crowds of people. Drones weighing over 7kg are also forbidden from flying above 400ft.
This incident is bound to raise questions regarding the regulation of drones both in the UK and on a global scale.
Although a spokesman from the CAA stated that it is "totally unacceptable" to fly drones close to airports, it seems that further education into the responsible use of UAVs would benefit hobbyists and budding aerial photographers.
Taking to Twitter, the CAA have begun to post a series of 'top tips' for safely flying drones. See below for their advice so far:
Flying a drone near an airport can lead to a sentence of up to five years
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