A drone flying near Heathrow almost crashed into a passenger jet – raising fears that this year’s must-have Christmas gift could cause a disaster in the skies over Britain.
The remote-controlled device, flown by an unidentified amateur, was spotted by the airliner’s pilot but alarmingly was not detected by air traffic control radars. The UK Airprox Board, the air safety panel that investigates near misses, gave the incident the highest risk rating of A, meaning there was a ‘serious risk of collision’.
It was the first near miss between a passenger jet and an unmanned aircraft at Britain’s biggest airport. It comes after warnings over the dangers posed to passenger planes by recreational drones flown by amateurs.
They are expected to be a best-seller this Christmas, with models as cheap as £35 being snapped up. Sales have risen rapidly – around 2,000 a month are being bought – and electronics retailer Maplin said they are currently one of its biggest sellers. The most sophisticated designs cost up to £3,000.