This is why we need FAA rules for drone flights. I can't even imagine what was going on in the cockpit when this happened.
An Airbus A320 capable of holding 180 passengers was approaching the runway at 700 feet during a landing when a helicopter drone suddenly appeared. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has not released how close the drone came to the plane, or which airline it was.
But what we do know is that it was a mighty close call. The CAA rated the near-collision as an "A" incident, which is the highest rating possible and means "serious risk of collision."
The drone seemed to come out of nowhere. The Heathrow control tower was unable to notify the Airbus because the drone did not appear on the air traffic control radar and disappeared after the incident.
In the summer of 2014, a pilot of a small prop plane reported a helicopter drone only 80 feet away from his plane at the height of 1,500 feet as he approached the runway of Southend airport.
Officials are worried that the drones could cause planes to miss their landings, or worse. A drone is small enough to be sucked into an Airbus or 747 engine and cause emergency landings like the Hudson River incident.
In that case, birds had been sucked into the jet's engines, but without the quick thinking of the pilots, a lot of people could have died that day. Who's to say that the next report of a drone near an airplane couldn't end disastrously?
In the U.K., airports have issued "exclusion zones" to keep model planes and drones from being flown into commercial airspace. They also have rules that say drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet away from the operator, and can't go within 150 feet of people.
A spokesman for the CAA really hit the nail on the head when he said, "People using unmanned aircraft need to think, use common sense and take responsibility for them."
It looks like having a pilot's license to fly a drone may be a real possibility in the near future.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Let me know in the comments below!