British Airways flight 5ft from disaster after near miss with drone at 10,000ft

A British Airways flight came just 5ft from disaster after an illegally-flown drone came extremely close to the plane at almost 10,000 ft.

The flight was due to join the holding stack near Sevenoaks before preparing to land when the incident occurred on 3 January.

The plane was carrying around 180 passengers as it flew at 250mph towards London Heathrow when pilots became aware of the object flying nearby.

The pilot stated that the object “shot down our right-hand side” and described it as “extremely close”.

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The report added: “They became aware of an object slightly to the right of the nose at same level on a constant bearing with closing distance. It was small but had the distinctive shape of a drone.”

UK Airprox Board, which assesses near aviation misses, classed the near miss as a Category A incident meaning there was a serious risk of collision.

The legal height to fly a drone in the UK is just 400ft and there has been increased concern about the dangers they pose to flying.

The drone in question was over 24 times the usual limit and the report details how it came just 5ft over the Airbus A321’s wing and 30ft from the cockpit.

It is not known if the operator of the drone was ever found, however one can be jailed for up to five years for endangering an aircraft.

Drones can potentially cause catastrophic damage to planes by being sucked into a jet engine or breaking a windscreen.

“Analysis of the radar by Safety Investigations indicated that there were no primary or secondary contacts associated with the drone report visible on radar at the approximate time of the event. In the Board’s opinion the reported altitude and/or description of the object were sufficient to indicate that it could have been a drone,” the report added.

A British Airways spokesperson told The Independent: “We take such matters extremely seriously and our pilots report incidents so that the authorities can investigate and take appropriate action.”

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