Near miss with ‘white drone’ at Glasgow Airport revealed in UK report

The category A near miss featured a white drone and an aircraft at an altitude of 800 feet as it was coming into land at Glasgow Airport. Picture: PA/John Devlin
The category A near miss featured a white drone and an aircraft at an altitude of 800 feet as it was coming into land at Glasgow Airport. Picture: PA/John Devlin
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A near miss with a “shiny white drone” that was just 15-30 metres from an aircraft at Glasgow Airport has featured in a report revealing 18 incidents involving the gadgets at airports around the UK.

The category A near miss featured an Embraer 190 aircraft at an altitude of 800 feet as it was coming into land at Glasgow Airport on September 7.

A “shiny white drone” was flown immediately above the plane at just 15-30 metres away, the UKAB concluded that a “definite risk of collision had existed”.

The report stated that the E190 pilot reported that he was “on final approach to Glasgow” when a UAS “passed immediately above the aircraft”. It was estimated to be between 50ft-100ft above and was a “shiny white drone which reflected in the landing lights of the aircraft”.

The pilot added that it was only seen for around a second before it passed over the window.

The report stated that the drone was being flown above the “maximum permitted height of 400ft” and at an altitude and position in an airfield approach path such that it was “endangering other aircraft at that location”.

• READ MORE: Drone came 100ft from crashing into Ryanair flight at Glasgow Airport

A spokesperson for Glasgow Airport said: “We continue to be very much alert to the threat posed by drones, particularly following the recent reported sightings at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

“We are continuing 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.”

There is growing concern about drones being flown near airports after recent disruption.

Multiple sightings of the gadgets caused flights to be grounded over 36 hours at Gatwick in the run-up to Christmas, while departures at Heathrow were suspended for an hour last week after a drone was spotted.

The incidents were revealed as it emerged new technology to combat the gadgets is in place at Heathrow.

Four of the incidents investigated by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) involved airliners which were approaching the west London hub.

A pilot of an Airbus A380 spotted a large “commercial drone” pass along the right side of the aircraft within 20 metres at an altitude of 3,400 feet.

The UKAB assessed that the drone was being flown in a way which was “endangering other aircraft” and concluded that the incident on July 22 last year involved the highest risk of collision.

In a bid to stop a repeat of the problem, an anti-drone system placed on top of a commercial vehicle has been deployed at Heathrow.

The AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System) is able to detect, track and ground drones and has been designed to stop them being used for terrorist, espionage or other malicious activities.

• READ MORE: Drone in near miss with Edinburgh-bound plane

Similar equipment has been pictured on the roof of Gatwick’s South Terminal.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “Heathrow has always worked closely with the Government and Metropolitan Police to monitor and mitigate against threats to the airport, including the irresponsible use of drones.

“In the interests of safety, we do not comment on issues relating to security at the airport.”

Assessments of 18 near misses with drones between July and October were included in the UKAB’s latest monthly report.

Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said: “The actions of these drone users were not only irresponsible, but illegal.

“The law could not be clearer that this is a criminal offence and anyone endangering others in this way faces imprisonment.”

There were 120 near misses between drones and aircraft reported in the year to December 4 2018, up 29% on the total of 93 in the whole of 2017.

Just six incidents were recorded in 2014.

In a bid to stop a repeat of the problem, an anti-drone system placed on top of a commercial vehicle has been deployed at Heathrow.

The AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System) is able to detect, track and ground drones and has been designed to stop them being used for terrorist, espionage or other malicious activities.

• READ MORE: Edinburgh Airport to strengthen security after Gatwick drone chaos

Similar equipment has been pictured on the roof of Gatwick’s South Terminal.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “Heathrow has always worked closely with the Government and Metropolitan Police to monitor and mitigate against threats to the airport, including the irresponsible use of drones.

“In the interests of safety, we do not comment on issues relating to security at the airport.”

Existing rules for drone users include not flying near airports, staying below 400 feet and flying at least 50 metres away from buildings and people.

Last week, the Government announced a package of measures designed to give police extra powers to combat drones.

The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately a 5km-radius (3.1 miles), with additional extensions from runway ends.

Ministers also announced that from November 30, operators of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg will be required to register and take an online drone pilot competency test.