From their files, they suggest a drone passed within 82ft (25m) of a Boeing 777 near London Heathrow Airport. Balpa the pilots union, wants the government and safety regulator to back research into how serious a strike could be.
However aviation expert Julian Bray suggests this is better placed with the United Nations Civil Aviation Organisation (UNCAO) as world wide co-operation is required, rather than just restricting the research to UK airports.
The Heathrow incident was one out of a dozen cases, given an "A" rating (top serious risk rating out of five categories) by the independent board, suggesting there was "a serious risk of collision".
Other serious rating incidents include a drone coming within 66ft (20m)of an Embraer 170 jet on its approach to London City Airport along the River Thames and above the Houses of Parliament on 13 September.
Meanwhile on the very same day, a Boeing 737 reported a drone 'near-miss' after take-off from Stansted Airport, Essex.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations prohibits unmanned aircraft from flying within 164ft (50m) of any vessel, vehicle or structure that is not in the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) wants the Department for Transport together with the CAA to back research into the possible consequences of a collision with a passenger jet.
Former RAF and British Airways pilot Steve Landells warned that a drone hitting an airliner could result in an uncontrolled engine failure or a smashed cockpit windscreen.
Steve Landells, Balpa's flight safety specialist (former RAF and BA pilot), claimed there was a large amount of data on the effects of bird strikes on planes, but he said specific drone research was needed because "birds don't have a big solid lump of lithium battery inside them".
Philippa Oldham, head of transport and manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, speaking to Press Association described the consequences of a drone hitting an airliner as "such an unknown thing" that would depend on a number of factors such as the size and speed of the drone and the location of the collision.
"There's a lot of scenario planning going on around that at the moment,
"The impact potentially could be anything from nothing to a destruction of an engine." she said.
Sources: BBC, CAA, AP,PA.
The Air Navigation Order 2009 (as amended), Article 1381 states:
1 Article 253 of the ANO details which Articles apply to small unmanned aircraft. Article 255 defines ‘small unmanned aircraft’. The ANO is available to view at http://www.legislation.gov.uk.
‘A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.’ Article 166, paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 state:
‘(2) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.
(3) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.’
(4) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight must not fly the aircraft
(a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;
(b) within an aerodrome traffic zone …; or
(c) at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirements for that airspace.’
A CAA web site provides information and guidance associated with the operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Additionally, the CAA has published a UAV Safety Notice which states the responsibilities for flying unmanned aircraft.
‘You are responsible for avoiding collisions with other people or objects - including aircraft.
Do not fly your unmanned aircraft in any way that could endanger people or property.
It is illegal to fly your unmanned aircraft over a congested area (streets, towns and cities).
finally… stay well clear of airports and airfields’.
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com