File photo: A minute after taking off from the Gatwick Airport in England, a plane was nearly hit by a drone. Picture: AP
File photo: A minute after taking off from the Gatwick Airport in England, a plane was nearly hit by a drone. Picture: AP

Close call: Report reveals drone almost hit plane carrying 455 passengers

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Jul 23, 2020

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A minute after taking off from Gatwick Airport in England, a plane was nearly hit by a drone.

The plane carrying 455 passengers barely missed the drone, and it could have had an unfortunate incident if it hit.

While the incident took place on March 18, investigators from the UK Airprox Board suggested that it might have been near the plane as the crew member was able to identify the make of the drone.

According to the Metro, the Boeing 747 was flying at 180mph at a height of 400ft, when a flight attendant spotted the drone through a cabin window at 1.23pm.

The flight attendant, who the publication revealed as a former drone operator, estimated the drone was around 300ft below the aircraft and around 330ft to 500ft away horizontally.

A report by UK Airprox Board rated it as a Category B incident, meaning that the safety of the plane wasn't guaranteed if the drone hit it.

The drone owner was not able to be traced, but experts believe that it was in a restricted area close to the runway at Gatwick.

Metro revealed that the drone user could have been jailed for up to five years as his/her actions endangered the aircraft and its passengers.

According to the report, the reported altitude and/or description of the object were sufficient to indicate that it could have been a drone. It revealed that the board agreed that the drone had likely been closer to the aircraft than the distance estimated by the person who reported the incident.

It revealed in the report: "The board considered that the crew member’s overall account of the incident portrayed a situation where safety had been much reduced below the norm to the extent that safety had not been assured."

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