Passenger plane approaching Heathrow ‘in near-miss with drone 650ft to the east of the Shard’

A passenger plane flying near the Shard had a “very near-miss” with a drone as it approached Heathrow Airport, an official report has revealed.  The drone, described as black and about 50cm (20in) wide, was spotted out of the right flight deck window at about 12.45pm on July 18, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) report into the incident said.  The A320 aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of 4,900ft near to the Shard skyscraper in central London, “narrowly avoided” colliding with the drone, according to the report.  The crew said the drone had “probably” passed above the right wing and the horizontal stabiliser, which is found on the tail of the plane.  The UK Airprox Board said the account given of the incident “portrayed a situation where a collision had only been narrowly avoided and chance had played a major part”. It deemed the incident to be in the most serious category of risk and said the drone operator had not been traced. Earlier on 17th April 2016 a British Airways flight from Geneva was possibly hit by a drone as it approached Heathrow (in the Richmond area) at about 12:50pm on Sunday 17th. The plane was an Airbus A320, with 132 passengers and five crew on board, that landed safely. The AAIB investigation was closed at the end of April, for lack of evidence. It is thought this may not have been a hit by a drone.
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Passenger plane approaching Heathrow ‘in near-miss with drone 650ft to the east of the Shard’

17th November 2016

A passenger plane flying near the Shard had a “very near-miss” with a drone as it approached Heathrow Airport, an official report has revealed.

The drone, described as black and about 50cm (20in) wide, was spotted out of the right flight deck window at about 12.45pm on July 18, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) report into the incident said.

The A320 aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of 4,900ft near to the Shard skyscraper in central London, “narrowly avoided” colliding with the drone, according to the report.

The crew said the drone had “probably” passed above the right wing and the horizontal stabiliser, which is found on the tail of the plane.

The UKAB report said: “Members agreed that this incident appeared to be a very near-miss and that the drone operator should not have been flying in that location at that altitude.”

It added that the account given of the incident “portrayed a situation where a collision had only been narrowly avoided and chance had played a major part”.

It deemed the incident to be in the most serious category of risk and said the drone operator had not been traced.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/17/passenger-plane-approaching-heathrow-had-near-miss-with-drone-65/

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See also:

Drone operators blamed for three more UK close encounters

By Alan Dron  (Air Transport World – ATW)
Dec 09, 2016
The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) has reported three more incidents in which unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) came alarmingly close to airliners. All three occurrences were rated as being in the highest category for risk.

According to UKAB, two incidents occurred July 20, 2016.

In one encounter, an Embraer E190 regional jet climbing out of London City Airport (the UKAB does not identify airlines involved in such incidents) was undertaking a right-hand turn passing 2,700 ft. when the first officer spotted a UAV in the 11 o’clock position, slightly above the aircraft. It passed down the left side of the E190, with the crew estimating the miss distance as 30 ft. vertically and 65.6 ft. horizontally.

The UKAB said “chance played a major part” in a collision being avoided.

In the second incident that day, a Boeing 767 was on short finals to runway 23R at Manchester Airport, northwest England, when an object passed down the right side of the vehicle at cockpit height, with the crew estimating it to be so close that it must have passed over the wing.

From the crew’s description of the bright yellow UAV, approximately 60 cm. in diameter, the board’s verdict was that it was carrying an underslung camera.

The final incident involved an Airbus A320 in a holding pattern over Biggin Hill Airport, southeast London. Descending to FL110, the first officer spotted a small object in the one o’clock position, closing very rapidly with the aircraft. He estimated the football-shaped UAV, fitted with a flashing magenta light, passed between 20-40 m horizontally from the A320 and the aircraft had no opportunity to avoid it.

The UAV operator was not traced in any of the cases.

There has been growing concern that a UAV will be ingested by an engine as the aircraft is in “low and slow” mode, either on approach or immediately after takeoff. A particular problem seems to be the use of UAVs to carry cameras aloft to film aircraft on approach to runways.

http://m.atwonline.com/safety/drone-operators-blamed-three-more-uk-close-encounters

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Earlier:

‘Drone’ hits British Airways plane approaching Heathrow, with no damage caused

The AAIB investigation was closed at the end of April, for lack of evidence. It is thought this may not have been a hit by a drone.  Link 28.4.2016 Guardian

A British Airways flight from Geneva was possibly hit by a drone as it approached Heathrow (in the Richmond area) at about 12:50pm on Sunday 17th. The plane was an Airbus A320, with 132 passengers and five crew on board. After landing safely, the pilot reported an object – believed to be a drone – had struck the front of the plane. It did not do serious damage, and a BA spokesman said the plane “was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.” This is thought to be the first time a drone has actually hit a plane, with many previous incidents of near misses.  BA is giving the police “every assistance with their investigation” and the Metropolitan Police are asking the public to help if they have information. The CAA said it is illegal to fly drones near airports, and the penalties include imprisonment.  In March, BALPA called for research by the DfT and the CAA into what would happen if a drone hit an airliner, after 23 near-misses around UK airports between 11th April and 4th October 2015. The effect could be serious if a drone smashed into the cockpit windscreen, or if it crashed into an engine. Unlike with bird strikes, the drones carry lithium batteries – there is concern these could cause a serious engine fire.  

Metropolitan police appeal following incident with aircraft

18.4.2016 (Metropolitan Police website)

Police are appealing for information after a plane on its descent into Heathrow Airport was struck by an object believed to be a drone.

On Sunday 17 April, a pilot on an inbound BA flight into Heathrow Airport from Geneva reported to police that an object believed to have been a drone had struck the front of the aircraft. It was flying at approximately 1,700 ft at the time of the incident shortly before the aircraft landed at 12:38hrs.

The flight landed at Heathrow Terminal 5 safely and was inspected by BA engineers. There was no damage found to the aircraft.

Officers believe that the incident occurred over the Richmond area, in proximity of Richmond Park, South West London. Local officers searched a wide area for suspects and/or debris but nothing has so far been found.

Aviation Policing are working with partners from British Airways (BA), Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to investigate this incident, which is being treated as an endangerment of an aircraft under Article 137 Air Navigation Order 2009.

Aviation Policing would ask for anyone who was in the area of Richmond Park or any surrounding open spaces on that day between 12:00hrs and 1300hrs who may have information to contact police or Crimestoppers.

We would also ask anyone to contact police if they find identifiable parts of drone in the Richmond area.

Anyone who can assist the inestigation is asked to contact Aviation Policing on 020 3276 1460; or alternatively Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.

Chief Superintendent Martin Hendy, head of Metropolitan Police Service’s Aviation Policing Command, said:

“Thankfully the aircraft landed safely but the incident highlights the very real dangers of reckless, negligent and some times malicious use of drones. We continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority and other partners to tackle this issue and ensure that enthusiasts who fly drones understand the dangers and the law.

“One of the challenges is to ensure people realise what is legitimate and what is illegal. The message is do not fly them anywhere near airports or flight paths, or over crowded places such as football and other stadiums. The potential is there for a major incident.”

Met Police press release

 

[AirportWatch comment: The affected plane was probably BA727, from Geneva, (GVA) which landed at about 12.31pm, after taking the usual S shaped course, coming from the east, heading west over Purley, turning north around Epsom, heading east around Thornton Heath, turning north almost over Dulwich and joining the approach path around Battersea and then towards Richmond. See the plane’s route on Webtrak http://webtrak5.bksv.com/lhr4  12.18pm to 12.31pm.]


 

‘Drone’ hits British Airways plane approaching Heathrow Airport

17.4.2016 (BBC)

A plane approaching Heathrow Airport is believed to have hit a drone before it landed safely, the Metropolitan Police has said.

The British Airways flight from Geneva was hit as it approached the London airport at about 12:50 BST with 132 passengers and five crew on board.

After landing, the pilot reported an object – believed to be a drone – had struck the front of the Airbus A320.

Aviation police based at Heathrow have launched an investigation. Police said no arrests have been made.

If confirmed, it is believed to be the first incident of its kind in the UK.

A British Airways spokesman said: “Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.”

The airline will give the police “every assistance with their investigation”, the spokesman added.

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman said it was “totally unacceptable” to fly drones close to airports, and anyone flouting the rules can face “severe penalties, including imprisonment”.

Steve Landells, from the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), said it had been “only a matter of time before we had a drone strike”. He called for greater enforcement of existing rules.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36067591


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Earlier:

 

BALPA wants DfT and CAA to fund drone strike research – fears of cockpit hit or engine fire

Pilots’ union British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) are calling for research into what would happen if a drone hit an airliner, after 23 near-misses around UK airports between 11th April and 4th October 2015. In one incident a drone passed within 25m (82ft) of a Boeing 777 near Heathrow.  Twelve of the incidents were classed as “A” rated, the most serious rating, by the independent Airprox board, meaning there was “a serious risk of collision”. Other incidents given the most serious rating include a drone coming within 20m (66ft) of a Embraer 170 jet on its approach to London City Airport above the Houses of Parliament on 13th September.  Also a Boeing 737 had a near miss with a drone shortly after take-off from Stansted. BALPA wants the DfT and the CAA to back research into the possible consequences of a collision with a passenger jet. The effect could be serious if a drone smashed into the cockpit windscreen, or if it crashed into an engine. Unlike with bird strikes, the drones carry lithium batteries – there is concern these could cause a serious engine fire.  The consequences of a drone hitting a plane would depend on a number of factors such as the size and speed of the drone and the location of the collision.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/03/balpa-wants-dft-and-caa-to-fund-drone-strike-research-fears-of-cockpit-hit-or-engine-fire/

 


Earlier:

Drone over Heathrow was ‘wingspan away’ from collision with jet

UK Airprox Board reports two more high-risk near misses involving passenger planes, one at Heathrow and the other at Manchester airport

By Gwyn Topham, Transport correspondent (Guardian)

26.2.2016

Two more near-misses between drones and passenger planes at UK airports have been reported by aviation authorities, including one a “wingspan away” from a jet landing at Heathrow.

Pilots have called for a clampdown on drone use after a spate of incidents. Among the latest six to be investigated and verified by the UK Airprox Board, which monitors the threat of midair collisions, three were in the most serious bracket of risk, one involving a small light aircraft and two involving larger passenger planes.

The closest calls came in late September as an Airbus A319, which typically carry up to 180 passengers, landed at Heathrow, and two days later as a turboprop commuter plane, believed to be a LoganAir flight to Scotland, left Manchester airport.

The pilot at Heathrow reported a drone helicopter hovering close to his flight path, and was unable to take evasive action as the drone passed less than 30 metres away from his A319. Police were called but the operator of the drone could not be traced.

The Manchester plane had taken off and reached an altitude of 3,000ft when a pilot saw a red and white drone pass less than 15 metres above the port propeller. Although the aircraft was undamaged, investigators concluded that “separation had been reduced to the bare minimum and chance had played a major part in events”.

Pilots fear that more near-misses occur than they witness, and say the trend is extremely worrying. The Balpa union has called for a registration system for drone users and more research into the possible effects of an impact.

A Balpa spokesperson said: “Once again we see these near misses happening at altitudes where manned aircraft frequently operate and also on approach to airports where there is absolutely no reason for a drone to be. We need to catch the people that are doing this before we see a collision and loss of life.

“Due to the small size of drones it is often the case that pilots see them so late that it is impossible to take avoiding action. The responsibility is on drone operators to keep them away from commercial traffic, and crucially, away from airports.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The unauthorised use of unmanned aerial vehicles in proximity to an airfield is both irresponsible and illegal. Heathrow’s top priority is the safety of our passengers and colleagues. The CAA recently published revised guidelines on the use of UAVs and we will continue to work with them and other partners to ensure that any violation of airspace rules is fully prosecuted.”

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, which as the owner of airlines including British Airways is the biggest operator at Heathrow, said drones were “one of the inherent challenges we face with developing technology, and we need to keep the situation under review”.

Last month the board revealed details of seven recent incidents involving drones, four of which were classified as high-risk.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/26/drone-wingspan-away-jet-landing-heathrow

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and

Near miss with airliner should spur review of drones, says Labour

Labour calls for urgent review of rules after UK Airprox Board reveals plane came within 20 metres of drone above Houses of Parliament

1.2.2016

By Rowena Mason and agencies (Guardian)

The near collision of a drone and a passenger plane over the Houses of Parliament should be a wake-up call for the government to speed up its review of unmanned aerial vehicles, Labour has said.

Richard Burden, a shadow transport minister, said the near-miss over central London and other recent cases should be a “spur to action” after delays in the government’s promised consultation on regulating drones.

….. full article at ….

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/feb/01/drone-near-miss-should-be-a-wake-up-call-for-review-says-shadow-minister