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A320/Drone near miss at Heathrow.

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  • Mr Creosote
    Better get a bucket...
    • Aug 2005
    • 1399

    A320/Drone near miss at Heathrow.

    Am I over-reacting in finding this pretty scary? According to the report on the Beeb , sales of small drones are running between 1000-2000 per month in the UK, and the CAA says they have to rely on people's "common sense" when operating them. Is there the potential for terrorists to use drones to attack commercial aircraft?
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  • robdd1
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Mar 2011
    • 228


    No more chance than using any type of vehicle to attack a target I would guess -

    Common Sense - Afraid with the drones they are easy to buy and easily flown straight from the box. You find a lot of people with little model experience are taking them up with no idea on any of rules and regs. They can and do have fly always so even someone flying on the edge of a restricted area following the rules can end up in trouble - this applies to most form of RC equipment.

    Though as most of the bigger models are fitted with GPS these could all be set to not fly in restricted areas by default?

    Good models shops normally explain a lot before selling models but with Internet buys a different story so maybe enclosing some details on the rules and regs should be shipped with each model.

    Get caught you do get done


    • Meddle
      Rank Bajin.
      • Sep 2014
      • 1626

      This story, for me, highlights the need for more user awareness at a time when these quadcopters are becoming easier and cheaper to purchase. I dont work directly in the aerial surveying field, but Ive spoken several times with those that do. The CAA is fairly stringent with commercial drone operators and, I believe, demands to see a physical demonstration of the type of work you wish to carry out. Any changes made to your operation, for significant commercial gain, need to be demonstrated further. For agricultural, forestry or archaeological surveys it makes good financial sense to hire a commercial remote-surveying company who put up a small copter for a couple of hours. By contrast, any idiot can buy one of these things for private use and fly it anywhere without any qualifications or comprehension of the risks involved. I imagine there will be a wave of these things after Christmas, and the cheaper models with more relaxed build tolerances will lead to an increase in accidents. The issue isnt so much what damage a drone would cause if ingested by an A320 and more about the increased numbers of people operating these aircraft with little to no flying knowledge. The knock-on effect this would have, with the CAA clamping down on the remote sensing industry, is open to speculation.


      • nJayM
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Jun 2008
        • 1687

        Unless we are talking about some 'fruit and nut cases' having access/acquired military drones and the very complex and expensive equipment to fly them (very unlikely), the non military ones that are currently available to 'Joe Public' are hardly going to be a worse risk to commercial aircraft than a large bird or flock of birds (usually flying at speeds much faster than any small non military drone could hope to achieve).

        Having said the above non military drones could be a higher risk to light aircraft.


        • 27vet
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Nov 2009
          • 2698

          Jay, like you said, fruit and nut cases. Well the FAA are tightening up their rules and also the CAA here in South Africa, but I haven't read the details yet.

          Just to give you an idea of damage that could be caused, a Cessna 210 hit a bird on final approach to Shakawe in Botswana the other day. The pilot was seriously injured and risks losing his eye. The plane was landed by the front seat passenger who incidentally is not a pilot.

          sigpicHindsight is what you see from the tailgunner's position...


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