A passenger plane narrowly avoided colliding with a drone while flying near London's tallest skyscraper, according to a recently published report.
The Airbus 320, with around 165 passengers on board, was making a final approach to Heathrow over central London when the “near miss” occurred. The aircraft was just 200m (650ft) east of the 310m (1,016ft) high skyscraper, which is the tallest building in western Europe.
The 20-inch black drone was seen from the right-side flight deck window, according to the report. The crew said the drone likely passed over the right wing and a horizontal stabilizer at the tail of the plane. “Members agreed that this incident appeared to be a very near-miss and that the drone operator should not have been flying in that location at that altitude,” the report said, according to the BBC.
The review published last week cited several safety incidents in Britain involving drones over summer, including a near-miss on July 12 with an A319 passenger plane at Liverpool Airport.
Pilots warn a drone could destroy an airliner’s engine or smash a cockpit windscreen. And the lithium battery could catch fire on impact. Engineers also say a drone’s lithium battery could catch fire if it hit the nose or other softer parts of an aircraft and became embedded.
In Holland, one drone operator decided to ignore the law and fly their camera to 11,000 feet.
The four-minute video from the flight showed the drone’s ascent all the way up to 3.4 kilometers, or 2.11 miles, above ground (11,155 feet).
Under British rules, a drone operator must be able to see the drone at all times — so such a flight above the Shard would be too high for an operator on the ground to see the drone and thus illegal. Drone operators are also supposed to keep them away from planes, helicopters, airports and airfields.