Drone Crashes Into Passenger Jet At London Heathrow

Drone crashes into BA passenger jet at Heathrow airport in London

A busy passenger jet was hit by a drone as it came to land at Heathrow Airport in London on Sunday. 

The object struck the front of a British Airways (BA) plane flying from Geneva, just after lunchtime. The pilot managed to land the plane and bring all 132 passengers to safety at Heathrow Terminal 5 reports:

A Met Police spokesman said they were investigating and no arrests had been made.

They refused to say whether or not the incident was terror related.

The spokesman said: “At approximately 12:50hrs, on Sunday, 17 April, a pilot on an inbound flight into Heathrow Airport from Geneva reported to police that he believed a drone had struck the aircraft.

“The flight landed at Heathrow Terminal 5 safely.

“It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft.

“No arrests. Enquiries continue.”

This is believed to be the first time a suspected drone has struck a passenger plane.

Aviation police, who are investigating the incident, said on Twitter the impact had been reported to them by the concerned pilot.

They said: “Officers are currently speaking to a pilot who has reported a drone flying very close to his aircraft on approach to Heathrow.

“This is dangerous, it is also a crime. Please be aware of the rules before you start flying a drone.”

A British Airways spokesperson said the Airbus A320 was examined by engineers who said no major damage was done.

He said: “Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.

“Safety and security are always our first priority and we will give the police every assistance with their investigation.”

Although no damage was caused to the plane in this particular incident, the consequences of a drone striking a plane could be serious.

The strike came just weeks after Prime Minister David Cameron warned drones could be used by Islamic State terrorists to drop a dirty bomb.

Mr Cameron said: “When it comes to the problems of international terrorism, the concept of terrorists and nuclear materials coming together is obviously a very chilling prospect and something, in light of the Belgian attacks, we know is real.”

A UK official said: “There is concern about foreign fighters looking at how they can use drones to disperse these substances, and it goes from there.”

Drones can be bought cheaply online on sites such as Amazon and there are fears they could be used to launch strikes on open air targets.

This is the most serious in a series of incidents involving suspected drones in recent months. In the six months between April and October last year there were 23 near-misses with drones in the UK.

Earlier this year the head of the International Air Transport Association warned that drones flown by the general public are “a real and growing threat” to civilian aircraft.

Tony Tyler called for drone regulations to be put in place before any serious accidents occur.

There have been six near misses at Heathrow in the last two months alone, according to Hounslow Police.

A spokeswoman told Get West London: “We’re on the flight paths to Heathrow so people flying drones should be sensible about how they do so and make sure they are operating within the law.

“It could be your loved ones on a plane above whose lives you are endangering.”

Anyone caught flying an unmanned aircraft above 400ft or beyond their eyeline can be convicted under the air navigation order 2009, which carries a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment.

Should their actions cause a pilot to take evasive action, they could be charged with endangering an aircraft and jailed for life.