Sussex

Gatwick-bound plane forced to avoid 'high risk' drone

A generic picture of Gatwick Airport Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The plane was approaching Gatwick Airport when the drone was spotted

A pilot was forced to take an unplanned turn to avoid a "high-risk" drone crash, a near-miss report has revealed.

The Airbus A320, which was carrying up to 186 passengers, was approaching Gatwick Airport when the drone was spotted, the UK Airprox Board said.

The plane was flying at 1,700ft (520m) - drones are not permitted above 400ft.

The aircraft was level with the drone but the pilot turned to the right by up to eight degrees, putting a distance of 80-100ft between them horizontally.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police considered shooting down drones that caused chaos at Gatwick in December

The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) said as well as the dark-coloured drone being flown above the maximum permitted height, it was also within controlled airspace.

It concluded the near-miss on 28 April was category A, the highest risk.

The airline involved was not identified in the report, but EasyJet and British Airways are among the carriers operating that aircraft to and from Gatwick.

Drone no-fly zone near airports extended

Drones ground flights at Gatwick

Three other category A drone incidents were highlighted in the UKAB's latest monthly meeting report.

On 6 June a yellow and orange quadcopter passed down the side of a Boeing 747 approaching Heathrow.

On 25 May a "metallic looking" drone passed "very close" to the right wing of an Airbus A319 at 6,500ft.

On 2 June a black drone a metre wide came within a few metres of the right wing of a Cessna 152 light aircraft, flying above Chelmsford, Essex.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thousands of passengers were affected by the drone activity near Gatwick

There were 125 near-misses with drones reported in 2018, up from 93 in 2017.

There were six recorded in 2014.

The Civil Aviation Authority's Dronecode sets out rules for drone users, including staying below 400ft and flying at least 50m (164ft) away from buildings and people.

Drone sightings at Gatwick in December caused about 1,000 flights to be cancelled or diverted over 36 hours, affecting more than 140,000 passengers.

Heathrow, Leeds Bradford and Dublin airports have also been forced to suspend flights due to drone activity this year.

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