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UK Investigators Report More Drones that Flew Too Close to Airplanes

Drones are not allowed to be flown near airplanes, for obvious reasons.
Image: Lumpi/Pixabay

United Kingdom aviation investigators reported more cases of drones nearly hitting commercial airliners, highlighting the danger of flying drones at a high altitude.

UK's Airprox Board, the authority tasked with aviation safety, recently released new reports detailing cases in which airplanes taking off or landing were too close to a drone for comfort. In one case from June, a pilot taking off from London saw a drone just above and to the left of the plane. He realized if he kept his current path, he wouldn't hit the drone as long as it didn't move quickly to the right, the report stated.

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The drone passed the aircraft on the left side without colliding, while hovering at about 2,700 meters above ground. The drone operator could not be traced.

While rare, it's dangerous for a drone to hit an airplane. It is illegal to fly drones near any airplanes, and drones have altitude limitations depending on the weight. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Authority has issued rules to drone pilots about how to stay out of airplanes' way, but they don't always listen.

But no matter where you are, authorities urge common sense when flying drones, and that includes not flying them near airports

In a case from August, a plane was circling over London when a football-sized drone came within about 30 meters of the plane. They didn't crash into it, but that appears to have been by luck, according to the report. The drone operator couldn't be traced, and another plane reported the same drone about two minutes later, indicating it was flying in a high-traffic area.

"This all occurred within seconds and the only thing the (front officer) could do was shout "Look!" according to the report. "The Captain also saw the drone for a short moment, but there was insufficient time to react or to avoid a potential collision.