Police in London were last night investigating after an object – reported to be a drone – struck the nose of a British Airways jet over Heathrow in what is believed to be the first case of its kind. The pilot of flight BA727 from Geneva, carrying 132 passengers and five crew members, reported the aircraft had been struck shortly before landing at the airport at 13.31 local time on Sunday. Although the aircraft – Airbus A320 G-EUYP – landed safely and was later cleared for its next flight to Aberdeen, it has renewed calls for more to be done to curb drone use amid a quadrupling of near-misses involving drones and aircraft in the UK in recent months. Helicopter operations would also be directly affected by this, particularly as they routinely operate at low levels, well within the range of today’s drone technology.
The CAA gave a statement saying they were “aware of a possible incident with a drone at Heathrow” and used the opportunity to reiterate the rules for operating drones. This included “It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment”, and that incidents such as this the CAA would receive a report from an airline within 96 hours. The CAA has a “drone code” at www.caa.co.uk/droneaware.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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