A drone came so close to a Loganair aircraft near Glasgow Airport its pilots thought it had been hit, investigators revealed today.
A report into the incident on 24 November last year concluded: "Providence had played a major part in the incident".
It was rated as category A - the highest level of near miss - where a "definite risk of collision had existed".
The near miss happened at 3,000ft, ten miles south west of the airport, as the plane flying from Shetland with 25 people on board was descending to land.
The UK Airprox Board, which investigates such incidents, said the pilot of the 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft "saw a large commercial drone, about 1m wide.
"It was dark or black in colour and flying 5m above the captain’s window, moving in a straight line and at high speed.
"Both pilots saw it, and independently described the same size, colour and height above the aircraft.
"It was reported to air traffic control and the police met them on the ground to file a report.
"Operations were informed, and an inspection of the tail was requested because the crew thought it may have been hit, however no damage was found."
The board concluded: "The drone was being flown above the maximum permitted height of 400ft such that it was endangering other aircraft .
"The drone was flown into conflict with the Saab 2000.
"The board considered the pilot’s overall account of the incident portrayed a situation where providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed."
Loganair chief operations officer Maurice Boyle said: “Our Saab 2000 aircraft was carrying 22 passengers and three crew from Sumburgh in Shetland and was approaching Glasgow Airport when the captain and first officer both saw the drone in very close proximity.
"Fortunately there was no collision, but this was potentially a very serious incident.
“In line with other carriers, we support the views of the UK Government, the Civil Aviation Authority and police through the country that penalties should be substantially increased for flagrant misuse of drones near airports, where they represent a very major hazard.”
A spokesperson for Glasgow Airport said: “We are very much alert to the threat posed by drones and continue to work closely with the UK Government, the Civil Aviation Authority and Police Scotland to ensure our processes are both appropriate and in line with current threat assessments.
“We remain vigilant as always and would remind people that the use of drones within close proximity to an airport is both extremely dangerous and a criminal offence."
The board also reported today a category B near miss involving a drone at 1,200ft which was spotted by the pilot of two-seater PA18 light aircraft 20ft below him and 25m away after taking off from Perth Airport on 4 November.
It said: "He initially thought it was a large black bird, or a plastic bag, but as he passed it he saw it was a small black drone with coloured lights on top."