Drone flew within 150ft of plane at Heathrow; first reported drone incident 'may have been plastic bag'

Drone flew within 150ft of plane at Heathrow; first reported drone incident 'may have been plastic bag'

Details have emerged of another near miss involving a drone and an airliner in England, as the British Government announced an incident initially believed to be the first collision of its kind probably did not involve a drone.

The co-pilot of an Airbus A320 reported that a drone with a flashing red light passed around 100-150ft beneath the plane shortly after take-off from Heathrow.

A report published by the UK Airprox Board put the incident, which occurred on February 14, in the most serious risk category.

Officials concluded that separation "had been reduced to the bare minimum" and "chance had played a major part" in the objects not colliding.

The flight crew stated that there was "no time to react" to the drone, which was black and around two-to-three feet wide.

In a separate incident on April 17 the pilot of a British Airways (BA) flight reported a suspected collision with a drone as it approached Heathrow.

But the UK's Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told MPs there on Thursday that it is now believed this "was not a drone incident".

BA said at the time that the Airbus A320 landed safely and was examined by engineers before being cleared to take off on its next flight.

An investigation launched by the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has been closed due to lack of evidence.

A spokesman for the AAIB said: "We made initial inquiries but there was insufficient information on what object was involved for us to take it further."

Following the incident police appealed for anyone with relevant information to come forward.

Officers searched a "wide area" in Richmond, south-west London, but did not find anything.

Britain's Transport Minister Robert Goodwill told the Lords European Union Internal Market Sub-Committee last week that reports the airliner was hit by a drone had not been confirmed.

He said: "There was no actual damage to the plane and there is indeed some speculation it may have been even a plastic bag or something."

Mr Goodwill added: "The pilot has a lot of other things to concentrate on (when landing) so we're not quite sure what they saw."

The latest UK Airprox Board report also reveals there was a near miss between a drone and two military Tornado jets over Dunbar, East Lothian on January 21.

One of the pilots stated that the drone passed within 500 feet of the aircraft at an altitude of 1,000 feet. No action was required to avoid a collision.

Officials decided that they could not be sure the drone was being flown illegally.

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