18 Apr 2016

Drone strikes plane at Heathrow, says pilot

7:47 am on 18 April 2016

A plane approaching Heathrow Airport is believed to have hit a drone before it landed safely, British police say.

The British Airways flight from Geneva with 132 passengers and five crew on board was hit as it approached the London airport about 12.50pm local time.

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport September 2010.

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport. Police are investigating after a BA pilot said a drone had hit his plane. Photo: AFP

After landing, the pilot reported an object - believed to be a drone - had struck the front of the Airbus A320.

Aviation police based at Heathrow have launched an investigation.

Police said no arrests have been made.

A British Airways spokesman said: "Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight."

The airline will give the police "every assistance with their investigation", the spokesman added.

The incident follows a warning earlier this year by the head of the International Air Transport Association that drones flown by the general public are "a real and growing threat" to civilian aircraft.

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requires certification is required for anyone wanting to operate a drone at night, into controlled airspace, beyond the line of sight or above 120m, under new rules introduced last year.

Tony Tyler called for drone regulations to be put in place before any serious accidents occur.

In January, the UK Air Proximity Board - which investigates near-miss incidents in UK airspace - said there had been four serious near-misses at UK airports in August and September.

The category A incidents were reported at Stansted, Heathrow, London City and Manchester airports.

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