Is This The First Confirmed Case of a Drone Hitting a Plane?
A recent British Airways flight may go down in the record books as the first plane to be hit by a drone.
The flight was coming from Geneva, Switzerland, with 132 passengers and five crewmembers onboard. As the plane was landing at London’s Heathrow Airport, the pilot believes a drone flew into the front of his plane, according to The Telegraph. There was no damage; the flight landed safely, and was later cleared for take-off on its next trip.
Police were called to the scene to investigate and, so far, the pilot’s suspicions have proven true. "It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft. No arrests have been made and inquiries continue. Aviation police based at Heathrow investigate," a Metropolitan Police spokesperson told The Telegraph.
If true, this would be the first confirmed case of a drone hitting a plane belonging to a major airline. The use of drones in commercial airspace has long been a cause for concern for aviation safety advocates, and for good reason—one recent study found that there were at least 327 close encounters between airplanes and recreational drones over a period of 21 months. Steve Landells from the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), told The Guardian that it had been "only a matter of time before we had a drone strike, given the huge numbers being flown around by amateurs who don’t understand the risks and the rules." He called for greater enforcement of existing rules.