Metropolitan Police in London are investigating a possible midair collision between a passenger jet on approach to Heathrow Airport in London and a drone. It would be the first time that an airplane from a major airline has actually collided with a drone.
At 12:50PM Sunday, a pilot on British Airways Flight 727 reported to the Metropolitan Police that he believed a drone had struck his aircraft. The flight, an Airbus A320 en route to London from Geneva, Switzerland, landed safely at Heathrow Airport. Airport police investigating the incident discovered that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Police. No arrests have been made.
the aircraft sustained no damage
British Airways said its engineers examined the aircraft and it was cleared to operate its next flight and that the airline will cooperate fully with investigators. One hundred thirty-two passengers and five crew were on board the plane at the time.
"It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment," said a UK Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson in a statement. "Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and observe all relevant rules and regulations. The rules for flying drones are designed to keep all airspace users safe."
There have been a number of close calls with commercial pilots reporting that drones were near their aircraft on takeoff or approach to major airports, and aviation authorities around the world have been working to develop new regulations to discourage drone owners from putting other airspace users at risk. This incident will likely give new urgency to those efforts.