British Airways flight missed hitting drone over Windsor by just 20ft

A British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner had just taken off from Heathrow when it had its near-miss with the drone - NURPHOTO

A British Airways flight carrying more than 200 people above Windsor missed an illegal drone by just 20ft, a report has revealed.

The Boeing Dreamliner was heading to Montreal, Canada, from Heathrow carrying 216 passengers at nearly 3,000ft in July, when the near-miss happened.

The details were revealed in a report by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) which rated the incident a category-A, meaning there was a serious risk of collision.

UKAB, which assesses risk incidents in UK airspace, reported that the plane was 20ft above the drone and 60ft away horizontally, leading the pilot to describe the risk of a collision as high.

The drone was being flown at 2,800ft, more than seven times the usual maximum legal height for the devices of 400ft.

The report, which was first reported in the Daily Mail, said: “It was apparent that whilst it was very close, the drone would pass below and to their left. The drone was white, with multiple props but no lights.”

The information was passed to the Heathrow control tower ‘in order that subsequent departures could be made aware of the sighting’.

UKAB concluded: “In the board’s opinion the reported altitude and/or description of the object were sufficient to indicate that it could have been a drone.

“The board considered that 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.”

It is understood that the pilot of the drone was never caught. If found, they could face up to five years in jail.

The issue of drones nearly colliding with planes has been on the increase in the last decade. According to data taken from UKAB, there were no near-misses in 2013, with that number growing to 125 by 2019.

In 2018, a reported sighting of two drones near Gatwick Airport saw the airport closed down for upwards of 30 hours.

A British Airways spokesman said: “We take such matters extremely seriously and our pilots report incidents so that the authorities can investigate and take appropriate action.”

It is understood that the incident caused no disruption to the flight and it arrived at its destination with no issues.

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