Packed passenger plane nearly hits drone at Doncaster Airport

Robin Hood Airport.
Robin Hood Airport.

A passenger plane with 240 people on board narrowly avoided a catastrophic collision with a drone as it took off from Doncaster’s Robin Hood Airport.

The drone, which was flying three miles high, was just 100 feet away from the Airbus A321 which was climbing at 380mph after taking off from the airport.

The incident happened at the highest ever altitude recorded for a near-miss between a drone and an aircraft in UK airspace.

The drone was flying at 15,500ft – nearly 40 times the legal maximum and would not have been visible to its operator.

A report by the UK Airprox Board, which investigates near-misses, said the pilot suddenly saw a drone pass ‘very close’ down the left-hand side of the plane, endangering it and other aircraft.

The report concluded that the device, spotted on June 3, was so high it would have been impossible for its operator to see.

Drone operators are only permitted to fly below 400ft and those who put the safety of an aircraft in jeopardy can be jailed for five years.

A spokesman for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: ‘It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports or aircraft.’