Gatwick-Bound Airbus A320 Forced to Evade Drone

By Gary Cutlack on at

The pilot of an Airbus A320 coming in to land at Gatwick back in April was buzzed by a drone, it's been revealed by the air traffic safety watchdog, with the machine getting so close that the plane was forced to change course in a minor aerial panic.

The UK Airprox investigators aren't revealing which airline was involved, lest passengers retrospectively turn green and start getting ideas about compensation for nearly dying unawares. The report from the pilot says he was around 500m up in the air – way above the acceptable ceiling for drone play – when he saw a dark machine flying extremely close and immediately banked to the right to create some space between his metal tube and the enemy. It's estimated that the drone came as close as 80 feet from the plane and its 186 fortunately unknowing passengers, with the machine being flown by some naughty boy within the controlled airspace boundaries of the airport's approach.

The monthly Airprox report also contains the mysterious case of an A319 that encountered an "unknown object" at 6,500 feet up, with its flying crew reporting something "metallic looking and reflecting light" passing the length of the plane. Investigators say they could not "determine the nature of the object." [Airprox via Guardian]