An EasyJet plane came within ten feet of smashing into a drone that was flying more than 40 times higher than the legal limit in one of the nearest ever misses involving an airliner, according to a report.
The Airbus A320’s two pilots spotted the black flying object when they were reaching 16,000ft over the Kent coast, at which point the aircraft would have been travelling at more than 300mph.
One pilot thought he’d heard a ‘thud’ and feared the drone had hit the plane, which was carrying 180 passengers from Gatwick to Rhodes on July 5, according to The Sun.
The pilot told air traffic controllers in London: ‘We very nearly just hit a drone. We’re talking less than ten feet.
‘We don’t think we’ve hit it, there was a bit of a thud, we’ll come back to you.’
A drone flying at 40 times the legal height nearly crashed into a plane carrying 180 passengers in July this year.
When the plane reached Greece the pilot assessed the plane and confirmed that no damage had been done. He reported: ‘I can confirm we did not hit the the drone.
‘It passed very close underneath the aircraft, but we discussed that the thud the First Officer heard was likely from the cabin.’
The Airprox Board, which assesses the severity of near misses,rated the incident as a Category A, meaning a ‘serious risk of collision existed’.
The report added: ‘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.’