In what the Washington Post says is a North American first, a drone slammed into a commercial airplane Thursday in the skies over Quebec City. "This should not have happened. That drone should not have been there," Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said, per the CBC. The incident took place as a Skyjet aircraft started its approach to Jean Lesage International Airport. The collision caused only minor damage to the plane, which the Post says was carrying six passengers and two crew members, and didn't cause any injuries. But Garneau says that if the drone had hit the plane's engine or cockpit, the result could have been "catastrophic"—especially since the pilot was getting ready to land, a particularly vulnerable time during a flight.
The drone was flying at about 1,500 feet when it hit the plane—far higher than the 300 feet allowed by Transport Canada's drone rules, which also notes drones must be flown at least 3.4 miles away from airports with departing and landing planes (the collision took place about 1.9 miles from the airport, per CTV News). Garneau notes in a statement that Transport Canada has received nearly 1,600 reports of drone incidents in 2017, with 131 of those "of aviation safety concern." There are interim safety measures on drone usage in place in Canada, which will be finalized in 2018. Violating these rules could bring offenders jail time and a fine of up to $25,000. "I would like to remind drone operators that endangering the safety of an aircraft is extremely dangerous and a serious offense," Garneau says in his statement, adding he's "extremely relieved" this incident wasn't as bad as it could've been.