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article imageDrone in near-miss with aircraft at London Heathrow

By Tim Sandle     Apr 2, 2017 in Technology
London - A passenger jet approaching Heathrow was involved in a 'near-miss' with a drone. The incident raises questions again about the control and regulation of unmanned aircraft.
According to the BBC, the incident happened at 10,000 feet as the passenger jet (an Airbus A320) approached London's Heathrow Airport. The incident happened in November, 2016, although it was not reported, for security reasons, until the end of March 2017. The drone was spotted by the pilot's of the aircraft . The drone was described as having multiple arms and eight rotors. The drone was as close as 30 meters (98 feet) away from the aircraft. The Guardian highlights this as being "within a wingspan."
The pilots were said to have exclaimed (reported by the UK Airprox Board): "Was that a drone? At 10,000 feet!" Drones in the U.K. are forbidden from flying above 400 feet (121 meters). In addition, drones are not allowed within proximity of airports or airfields.
Security experts rated the incident as a level 'B', which is the second highest rating (on a scale of five) that can face an aircraft in U.K. skies. With this incident British police were unable to trace the owner of the drone. It is unknown whether the drone was being deployed for deliveries, racing or some other recreational use. It is unlikely that the drone was being used for covert operations.
Incidents with aircraft and drones are becoming increasingly common, with 59 reported in British skies in 2016. The Heathrow incident was one of the most potentially serious and due to the height that the drone was recorded at, one of the most unusual. Following reports of the incident there have been renewed calls for the mandatory registration of drones.
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