News & Events > Heathrow jet carrying up to 160 passengers narrowly avoided disaster after unmanned drone passed within 20ft of the pilot’s window

Heathrow jet carrying up to 160 passengers narrowly avoided disaster after unmanned drone passed within 20ft of the pilot’s window

  • Apr 27, 2018
  • Categories: Counter Drone News


A jet carrying up to 160 passengers came within just 20ft of hitting a drone, an official report has revealed.

The near miss happened on January 7 shortly after the Airbus 319 had taken off from Heathrow airport.

A report by the UK Airprox Board said the plane was climbing at 4,800ft when the ‘medium-sized white drone passed directly overhead’ at 11.33am.

The pilot said there was no time to take evasive action and estimated that the drone was just 20ft away over Perivale, west London.

The incident was reported to air traffic controllers and the police, but the operator of the drone was never found.

The report classified it as the most dangerous Category A incident, meaning there was a serious risk of collision.

It noted that the drone was being flown at more than 12 times the normally permitted 400ft maximum height for the unmanned craft.

Drone operators who endanger the safety of an aircraft can be jailed for five years.

The Board concluded that there was a high risk of collision and that flying the drone at such a great height had endangered aircraft.

A recent study, part-funded by the Department for Transport, found that a mid-air collision between a 4lb drone could ‘critically damage’ a plane windscreen.

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