An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) reportedly hit a British Airways Airbus A320 as it approached London Heathrow Airport Sunday. The aircraft landed safely.
London Metropolitan Police and BA confirmed that the aircraft’s pilot reported the UAV struck the front of the A320 and that an investigation has been launched.
A BBC report said there were 132 passengers and five crew onboard the A320, which was completing a flight from Geneva April 17. The aircraft was examined by BA engineers and cleared to operate its next flight.
The number of reports of near-miss incidents between small UAVs and airliners near major airports has become a serious concern for the air transport industry and regulatory authorities. French air accident investigation agency BEA is investigating what it described as a “serious near-miss incident” involving an unmanned aerial vehicle and Air France Airbus A320 during its approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle in February.
The problem seems especially acute in Europe and in the US, where FAA last year introduced new rules governing private, small UAV ownership and operation. Typically, authorities are unable to track the privately-owned drone or its operator; the FAA rules are aimed at making them traceable and at keeping UAVs away from airports.