An English air ambulance plane near Leicester was forced to drop sharply in altitude to avoid hitting a drone head-on, a near-crash situation that UK inspectors classified in their highest collision risk category. The case is one of many recent incidents in the country involving drones dangerously crossing paths with large craft.
The agonizing encounter took place late in the morning of October 7 as an AgustaWestland AW109 emergency medical services helicopter was on mission over central England. According to the UK Airprox Board – the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority department that investigates reports of near misses – the air ambulance plane was on its way to the destination hospital when a drone was dropped. suddenly appeared in its flight path at 800 feet – exactly double the allowable altitude. under the drone regulations.
With the impact apparently imminent, the pilot was forced to abruptly descend from the helicopter to avoid what could have been a catastrophic collision.
“(A) at 750-800 feet radalt, a stationary object was spotted at 12 o’clock at the same height,” the UK Airprox Board decision read, using the abbreviation for radio altimeter data. “Avoiding the steps taken on the way down, the object was seen as a white colored ‘quadcopter’ style drone. The drone flew directly overhead about 20 to 30 feet above the aircraft.
The report noted that there had been no “Airmen” alerts about the operation of the UAV, although it was well above authorized altitude limits. He recorded the risk involved in category A – the highest in its ranking – and said that “the incident depicts a situation in which providence had played a major role in the incident and / or a certain risk of collision had existed “.
The near-crash between the drone and a larger plane near Leicester is part of a wave of incidents in UK skies in recent times. As recently as last week, a DHC-8 airliner reported a UAV crossing ahead of its descending flight path toward Aberdeen Airport at an altitude of 2,300 feet. The sighting would have caused the interruption of all departures and arrivals until the drone was confirmed as no longer present in the area.
Earlier this month, the UK Airprox Board noted the “definite risk of collision” in a September 13 collision between a drone and a Boeing 737 airliner descending to London Stansted Airport in what would have been the Nearest crash of its kind on British pounds. .
This followed the panel’s Category A classification in November of a report of proximity of a drone and various Boeing 737 passenger planes over 300 feet near Leeds-Bradford airport. This UAV approached so close, according to the report, that the pilots reflexively “tilted and pushed their head away from the cockpit window because they thought it was going through the window.”
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