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Plane Hit by Drone While Landing at London's Heathrow

Plane Hit by Drone While Landing at London's Heathrow
(REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

By    |   Monday, 18 April 2016 08:20 AM

A British Airways plane was hit by a drone on Sunday while landing safely at London's Heathrow Airport, launching an investigation and renewing calls to curb the use of the unmanned flying vehicles, reported The Telegraph.

It's believed to be the first time an airliner was struck by a drone at Heathrow and immediately raised concerns about their use by terrorists.

The pilot told authorities that an object hit the airliner during its approach. The flight from Geneva carried 132 passengers and five crew members, said The Telegraph.

"Whether this turns out to be related to terrorism or not it is just one more Illustration of the enormous challenges facing out anti-terror agencies daily," counter-terror expert Col. Richard Kemp told The Sun. "We know terrorists have for a long time sought to use drones to visit violence on innocent people and it a very real threat."

Kemp a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said he was "deeply alarmed" about drones flying so close to commercial aircraft.

"Frankly it was only a matter of time before we had a drone strike given the huge numbers being flown around by amateurs who don't understand the risks and the rules," said Steve Landells, flight safety specialist for the British Airline Pilots Association.

"It appears that no serious damage was done on this occasion, but what is clear is that while most drones are flown safely, sensibly and within the limits of the law, much more education of drone users and enforcement of the rules is needed to ensure our skies remain safe from this threat."

Pilots have complained in the past that drones could damage the engine of airliners along with the cockpit wind screen, said the Daily Mail. Pilots also warned that many drones are too small to be picked up by air traffic controllers on radar.

"It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment," a Civil Aviation Authority spokesman told the Daily Mail on Sunday.

"Drone users have to understand that when taking to the skies they are potentially flying close to one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world – a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft, including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders and light aircraft. Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and observe all relevant rules and regulations." 

While British aviation experts have reported near misses in the past, drone problems are a challenge to American pilots as well, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said pilots flying into New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport have reported drone sightings close to those airfields.

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A British Airways plane was hit by a drone on Sunday while landing safely at London's Heathrow Airport, launching an investigation and renewing calls to curb the use of the unmanned flying vehicles.
plane, hit, drone, landing, london
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2016-20-18
Monday, 18 April 2016 08:20 AM
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