Key Points:

  • A British Airways flight carrying over 200 passengers narrowly missed a drone flying illegally at nearly 3,000 feet above Windsor.

  • The Airprox Board classified the incident as category-A, indicating a serious risk of collision.

  • The drone was flying at 2,800 feet, more than seven times the legal limit, and the pilot described the risk of collision as high.

A Close Call Over Windsor

A British Airways flight traveling from Heathrow to Montreal with 216 passengers onboard narrowly escaped a collision with a drone flying illegally above Windsor. The incident occurred in July at approximately 3,000 feet, with the drone flying just 20 feet above the aircraft and 60 feet horizontally away.

The UK Airprox Board (UKAB), which investigates air safety incidents, classified the event as category-A, signifying a serious risk of collision. The report revealed that the drone, white with multiple propellers but no lights, was operating at an altitude of 2,800 feet, significantly exceeding the legal limit of 400 feet for such devices.

Pilot's Quick Thinking Averts Disaster

Fortunately, the quick thinking of the pilot prevented a potential disaster. The report stated that the drone was observed passing below and to the left of the aircraft, a maneuver that ultimately avoided a collision. The pilot reported the incident to air traffic control, ensuring that subsequent departures were aware of the drone's presence and could take necessary precautions.

While the pilot of the drone remains unidentified, authorities continue their investigation. If caught, the individual could face serious consequences, including imprisonment for up to five years.

A Growing Threat: Drone Encounters on the Rise

This incident highlights the growing concern surrounding drone operations near airports and airplanes. Data from UKAB shows a significant rise in near-misses involving drones, with none reported in 2013 but reaching 125 by 2019. Notably, a reported sighting of two drones near Gatwick Airport in 2018 resulted in the airport's closure for over 30 hours, demonstrating the potential danger posed by such incidents.

British Airways emphasized its commitment to safety, stating that they take such matters "extremely seriously" and encourage pilots to report incidents to ensure proper investigation and action by authorities. Thankfully, the incident did not disrupt the flight, which arrived safely at its destination.

Call for Increased Regulations and Awareness

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with illegal drone operations near airports. It underscores the need for stricter regulations, increased enforcement, and greater public awareness about responsible drone use. By taking these measures, we can work towards preventing similar incidents and ensuring the safety of passengers and aircrews.