Athens-London Flight Dodges Drone in Near Miss Over Kent

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LONDON - A British Airways flight from Athens to London narrowly avoided a collision with a drone flying illegally at a high altitude, according to a report released by the UK Airprox Board.

The incident, which occurred on January 3rd, 2024, involved an Airbus A321 carrying up to 180 passengers. The plane was travelling at over 250 miles per hour when it came within a mere five feet of the drone. Investigators believe this to be one of the closest calls ever recorded between a drone and a British Airways commercial aircraft.

The report reveals that the drone was flying at a dangerous height of approximately 9,600 feet—a staggering 24 times higher than the legal limit of 400 feet for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The drone's operator remains unidentified but could face significant legal consequences, including up to five years in jail for endangering an aircraft.

The incident highlights the growing concern surrounding the potential dangers posed by irresponsible drone use. Drones can be sucked into jet engines or cause severe damage to aircraft windshields, posing a serious threat to passenger safety. While software typically restricts drone flight heights, some individuals choose to bypass these limitations, creating potentially life-threatening situations.

The UK Airprox Board classified the incident as a Category A near miss, indicating a high risk of collision. The pilot reported the drone as passing "extremely close" to the plane, just above its wing.

"We take such matters extremely seriously," stated a British Airways spokesperson. "Our pilots report incidents so that the authorities can investigate and take appropriate action."

Thankfully, no collision occurred during this incident. However, the report acknowledges the element of luck involved and emphasizes the importance of responsible drone use. The close call serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of illegal drone activity near airports and flight paths.

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