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Passenger Jet Nearly Hits Unidentified Drone

Heathrow incident could have caused crash, authorities say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2014 2:08 AM CST

(Newser) – An Airbus A320 nearly hit a drone at Britain's Heathrow Airport earlier this year, authorities have revealed. A report from air safety authorities says the pilot was at 700 feet and preparing to land on July 22 when he saw the helicopter-style drone, ITV reports. The owner of the drone was never identified, and Britain's Civil Aviation Authority has given the incident its highest rating, "A" for "serious risk of collision." The drone failed to show up on air traffic control systems at Heathrow, which is the busiest airport in Europe.

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Authorities haven't said just how close the plane came to hitting the drone, but the British Airline Pilots' Association warns that with the huge rise in drone use by amateurs, it could be only a matter of time before one causes an emergency landing or worse. The risk of a 20-pound drone "hitting a plane is a real one that pilots are very concerned about," a spokesman tells the BBC. "A small drone could be a risky distraction for a pilot coming in to land and cause serious damage if they hit one." (Read more aviation stories.)

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