The fear of a drone strike on a civilian airliner becomes a reality
We have commented about the threat from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) otherwise known as drones, and it has been reported that in the early New Year drones were involved in four serious near-misses at UK airports.
Tony Tyler, who is director-general of the International Air Transport Association, called for drone regulations to be put in place before any serious accidents occur. The board which is the official body which investigates near-miss incidents in UK airspace said a drone had come very close to colliding with a Boeing 737 that had taken off from Stansted airport.
Now it appears that the fears of a drone strike on an aircraft have become a reality as police are reported to be investigating an incident in which a passenger plane was approaching Heathrow Airport was hit by what is believed to have been a drone.
The flight was a British Airways aircraft on its way from Geneva to Heathrow, carrying 132 passengers and five crew, and was struck by the drone as it approached Heathrow. It is believed to be the first actual strike on an aircraft, in the UK at least. With the number of people buying and using drones, normally for photographic purposes, which are apparently illegal, why have only three people been prosecuted?
The use and development of drones is exciting and having your pizza delivered by drone, or the item ordered by Amazon landing on your doorstep and not through the friendly postman is of course something that we all can look forward to in the near future, but, they cannot be allowed to be a hindrance or safety threat to commercial aviation.
The aircraft, an Airbus A320 was struck on the front and the pilot landed it safely, a British Airways Spokesman said: “Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.” After this incident, we can expect action to be taken by police, perhaps that use of Drone Hunting Eagles being trialled by the Dutch Police could work, but birds and jet aircraft do not mix either.