25 APRIL 2016
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Police are investigating a suspected incident of a drone hitting a British Airways aircraft last Sunday (17 April) as the jet was about to land at Heathrow.
The Airbus A320 was carrying 137 passengers and crew on a flight from Geneva. It was struck by an object at 1,700ft near Richmond Park in west London.
Later reports suggested the object was not a drone after all and possibly only a paper bag, but the incident is being treated as endangerment of an aircraft under Article 137 Air Navigation Order 2009
Civil Aviation Authority rules state an unmanned aircraft must not be flown beyond the "normal unaided line of sight” of the person operating it, usually reckoned as 500m (1,640ft) horizontally or 12m (400ft) vertically.
Police searched a wide area around the park for suspects or debris but found nothing in the days following the incident.
Investigators are appealing for information from anyone who may have been in the park to come forward.
A BA spokesman said: “Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and was cleared to operate its next flight.”
If a drone was involved, it would be the first time one has hit a commercial flight in the UK.
The Met’s aviation policing command said it was working on the issue to ensure enthusiasts who flew drones understood the dangers and the law. www.caa.co.uk
See COMMENT in this issue.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Andrew Dent, United Kingdom
Your line on UAVs ('drones') is a little hysterical. The regulations are clear, generally well-understood and complied with, certainly by commercial operators. The Police have other things to do as well as enforce them, however, and the CAA has cleverly ducked this responsibility. Your illustration is not of a 'sophisticated' drone but a DJI Phantom, a basic enthusiast model weighing 1.2 kg, which would be very unlikely to bring down an A320 even if it chanced to go down an inlet.