Is This The First Confirmed Case of a Drone Hitting a Plane?
So far, it's looking like it is.
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.
While collisions are possible, planes are designed to withstand far greater impacts; a recent study revealed that birds are a bigger threat to planes than drones. And even with this first confirmed report, planes still have hit more turtles than drones.