A suspected drone hit a plane on arrival from Geneva to Heathrow airport in the U.K.
The British Airways flight was hit by an object, believed to be a drone, as it was approaching Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport around 12:50 p.m., according to the Evening Standard.
A Metropolitan police spokesperson said an investigation to determine where the drone came from and who was operating the drone would be ongoing.
“A pilot on an inbound flight into Heathrow Airport from Geneva reported to police that he believed a drone had struck the aircraft. It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft. No arrests have been made and enquiries continue. Aviation police based at Heathrow investigate.”
A British Airways spokesperson backed up what the police spokesperson said about the drone incident and said the plane was able to safely continue transporting passengers after the incident and would continue to do so. The spokesperson also said, “Safety and security are always our first priority and we will give the police every assistance with their investigation.”
The UK Civil Aviation Authority has set guidelines, or The Dronecode, for people who wish to use a drone commercially or for recreation. The rules are quite simple, and they state, “Make sure you can see your drone at all times and don’t fly higher than 400 feet. Always keep your drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields. Use your common sense and fly safely; you could be prosecuted if you don’t.”
A drone fitted with a camera may not be used within 50 meters, or about 164 feet, of people, vehicles, buildings, or structures, and any drone may not be used over congested events such as concerts, sporting events, or other large gatherings.
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration does not allow any drone or model airplane within 5 miles of an airport, or to fly above 400 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration receives about 100 reports per month about close calls with a drone.
Every drone must also be marked with a registration number so a person can be tracked if they violate the rules in the United States, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The pilot who famously landed a jetliner on the Hudson River in New York City in 2011, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, believes that disaster is just around the corner between a drone and a plane.
“We have seen what a six-pound or an eight-pound bird can do to bring down an airplane. Imagine what a device containing hard parts like batteries and motors can do that might weigh 25 or possibly up to 55 pounds to bring down an airplane,” the pilot said last year in an interview, according to the Hill.
Because a drone is so easy to get and to use, the famous pilot fears that people will use them recklessly and without thought.
As for the drone which hit a plane landing at Heathrow airport, one can hope that its operator will learn his or her lesson before disaster occurs.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images News]