An Airbus A320 passenger jet avoided a potential disaster “by chance” in a near-miss with a drone or UAV (UAV- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) whilst flying near to the Shard 'skyscraper' in Central London.
Julian Bray Aviation Security expert comments: The number one selling Christmas present for 2016 is a drone or UAV, which alarmingly in the UK can still be flown without any formal training or licence. Over the years I've reported on a number of serious Drone or UAV incidents, which are becoming an all too regular occurrence and possibly endangering lives.
Many UAVs under the £1K price point are now equipped with sophisticated navigation and control technology which enables the drone to fly alongside commercial aircraft, whilst streaming 4K television and taking high definition pictures, all of which is totally against the law and carries heavy criminal penalties for the operator, and creates the possibility of a major disaster with loss of life..
The Airbus A320 with 165 passengers was on 'finals' over Britain's tallest building during a descent which follows the River Thames into London Heathrow Airport, during this crucial phase of the flight, the Airbus A320 came within 65ft (20m) of the aircraft, an official Air Proximity Board report has confirmed.
The pilot spotted the UAV out of the right flight deck window at 12.45pm on July 17.
Crew members told UK Airprox Board investigators that the UAV had “probably” passed over the Airbus right wing as it flew at 4,900ft past the 95-storey Shard skyscraper.
It is also thought to have narrowly missed impact /contact with the horizontal stabiliser, located on the tail section of the plane.
It was the third drone near-miss in consecutive days involving aircraft coming in to land at Heathrow, according to a Daily Mirror report.
A day earlier, an Airbus A319 pilot saw a large drone pass 330ft away down the left side of his aircraft.
The day before that, an A320 pilot saw a drone fly within 50ft of his wing tip as he was coming in to land.
Last month, police launched a formal investigation after receiving reports of UAVs spotted flying near Heathrow.
Flight crew alerted police after seeing a drone approaching the airport’s transport hub and another sighting was reported a few miles away near the Queen Mother Reservoir on October 10.
The UKAB report said: "Members agreed that this incident appeared to be a very near-miss and that the drone operator should not have been flying in that location at that altitude."
It added that the account given of the incident "portrayed a situation where a collision had only been narrowly avoided and chance had played a major part".
It placed the incident in the most serious category of risk, and said the drone operator had not been traced.
Source; Airprox report, CNS, PA, Daily Mirror
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