‘Helicopter-shaped’ drone put more than 300 lives at risk when it came within 100ft of smashing into a Boeing 787 Dreamliner seconds after it took off from Heathrow
- The black device, measuring one to two feet wide, was being flown illegally
- The plane had up to 330 passengers on board when the pilot noticed drone
- The pilot alerted air traffic controllers and rated the risk of collision as ‘high’
A ‘helicopter-shaped’ drone came within 100 feet of smashing into a plane carrying more than 300 passengers.
The black device, measuring one to two feet wide, was being flown illegally close to a departure lane at Heathrow Airport when the near-miss happened.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which had up to 330 passengers on board, had taken off seconds earlier and was flying at 800 feet at 2.45pm on May 15 this year.
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the same model as the plane which came within 100 feet of a drone after taking off from Heathrow Airport in May
But the pilot noticed the drone passing down the left-hand side of the aircraft and immediately alerted air traffic controllers, a report by the UK Airprox Board reveals.
The pilot rated the risk of collision as ‘high’.
It was ruled to be a Category B incident by the Airprox Board, meaning safety had been ‘much reduced below the norm’.
It said the drone had been ‘flown into conflict’ with the B787 and had endangered aircraft due to it being above the 400ft permitted limit and near a major airport.
The name of the airline operating the jet was not revealed in the report.
Drone operators who endanger the safety of an aircraft can be jailed for five years.
Drone operators who endanger the safety of an aircraft can be jailed for five years
The incident is the latest in a series of close calls between drones and aircraft in UK air space.
It was reported in March that near-misses involving drones had tripled over the last two years with 92 reported last year and just 29 in 2015.
A recent study, part-funded by the Department for Transport, found that a mid-air collision between a four-pound drone could ‘critically damage’ a plane windscreen.
FLYING INTO TROUBLE: WHAT EXACTLY DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT OWNING A DRONE?
There is no need to register your personal details when you purchase one, making owners very difficult for police to trace
Anyone can buy a drone;
- There is no need to register your personal details when you purchase one, making owners very difficult for police to trace;
- Keep it within sight so it does not collide with anything, especially other aircraft (not more than 400 feet above you or 500 metres away from you);
- If filming with the device for recreational use, you must avoid flying it within 150 metres of a congested area or 50 metres of a person, another craft or building;
- Fliers must not recklessly nor negligently cause or permit their drone to endanger any person or property;
- Potential punishments include a maximum jail sentence of five years for endangering other aircraft – and a minimum of two years for flying drones above prisons or using them to smuggle contraband inside;
- You can be fined £2,500 for breaking Civil Aviation Authority rules.