Earlier today, a British Airways pilot on approach to London Heathrow said that he thought he collided with a drone. It’s the nightmare pilots (and drone operators) fear the most, but according to British Airways, the plane didn’t get a scratch.
The Airbus A320 was flying from Geneva, Switzerland, to London Heathrow. The pilot reported an object hitting the front of the plane, although it doesn’t appear to have caused any damage. A British Airways spokesperson said: “Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.”
The police are investigating the incident, but no arrests have been made yet. In the UK, flying a drone near an airport is an offence punishable by up to five years in prison.
A drone colliding with a passenger aircraft is the absolute worst-case scenario, something that the FAA in the States has been warning of for years, and taking steps to prevent. But what would actually happen if a normal consumer drone hit an aircraft has always been unclear.
Research suggests that drone being sucked into the engine would only result in injury 0.2 per cent of the time. That’s not to say everyone should fly their drones near airports to get some sick photos—it’s still dumb as hell—but that perhaps a drone hitting a plane won’t result in instant death for all involved.