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Virgin Atlantic plane came 10ft from crashing into drone



Virgin Atlantic plane came 10ft from crashing into drone in the closest-ever near miss involving a passenger jet

  • The Boeing 787-9 jet was 3,200 feet above Clapham Common at the time
  • The passenger jet was carrying 264 passengers when the drone almost struck
  • It is believed that this was the closest near miss between a jet and a drone 

By Andrew Young For The Mail On Sunday

Published: 20:11 EDT, 20 October 2018 | Updated: 05:19 EDT, 21 October 2018

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An airliner came within 10ft of crashing into a drone in the closest-ever near miss involving a passenger jet, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The incident took place on June 25 over Central London, as a Virgin Atlantic jet doing 250mph and flying at 3,200ft approached Heathrow.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which can carry up to 264 passengers, was passing over residential streets north of Clapham Common when it was almost hit.

The drone passed within 10 feet of the Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner similar to this jet
The drone passed within 10 feet of the Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner similar to this jet

The drone passed within 10 feet of the Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner similar to this jet

A report by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), which investigates near misses, said the 'drone-like object was seen to pass just below the right wing, avoiding impact with the engine by an estimated 10ft'.

Giving the incident a rating of Category A, meaning there was a 'serious risk of collision', it added: 'The Board considered that the pilot's overall account of the incident portrayed a situation where providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed.'

The Civil Aviation Authority said the near miss was believed to be the closest between a drone and a commercial airliner over the UK.

Virgin Atlantic confirmed the incident and called for tighter rules on drones.

The Virgin Atlantic jet was on its way to Heathrow when a drone flew within 10 feet of it
The Virgin Atlantic jet was on its way to Heathrow when a drone flew within 10 feet of it

The Virgin Atlantic jet was on its way to Heathrow when a drone flew within 10 feet of it

'It's vital that action is taken to regulate the use of drones near airports, and we urge the Government to consider further proposals,' a spokesman said.

Drone operators are normally only permitted to fly below 400ft and are expected to stay well clear of airports and aircraft flight paths.

The number of near misses between aircraft and drones rose from 29 in 2015 to 92 last year.

Experts fear they could disable an engine or injure pilots if they smash into a plane's windscreen.

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