'Reckless drone operator' in 'near miss' with Flybe flight

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Drone with aircraft in backgroundImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating reports that a drone nearly collided with a plane near Newquay airport

A "reckless drone operator" is being sought by police after reports of a "near miss" between a drone and plane.

The Flybe passenger aircraft was flying at about 900ft (275m) and was about 2 miles (3km) from Cornwall Airport Newquay when it happened on Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Devon and Cornwall Police conducted a search of the area but have not found the drone or operator.

Insp Dave Meredith called it "an incredibly concerning incident".

"The close proximity of the drone to the passenger aircraft shows a complete disregard by the operator for public safety and we are appealing to the public for information to help us track down this reckless drone operator," Insp Meredith said.

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Airport Newquay confirmed a drone had flown within the air traffic zone adjacent to the final approach to the airport as the plane flew in from London Stansted carrying 62 passengers.

"Although on this occasion there was no danger of collision, Air Traffic Control (ATC) reported this incident to the police as the drone should not have been flown in that area without ATC clearance and posed a potential danger to incoming flights," she said.

Image caption,
Newquay Cornwall Airport said the drone posed 'a potential danger'

A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: "Airspace proximity incidents, whether involving two aircraft, or a drone and an aircraft, need to be fully investigated to establish the level of risk involved."

The UK Airprox Board, which investigates airspace proximity incidents, said it had not received any official report of the incident yet.

Flybe said it would "work closely" with all relevant authorities to help identify the perpetrators of any activity which could jeopardise passenger safety.

Operators of any small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly them within 50m (164 ft) of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the user's control, unless they have obtained permission from the Civil Aviation Authority, according to the Air Navigation Order 2009.

Figures have shown there were more reported near misses between drones and aircraft over the UK in the first six months of 2016 than the whole of the previous year.

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