Thomas Cook jet carrying up to 220 holidaymakers came within 25ft of smashing into mystery object as it was about to land at Birmingham Airport
- The passenger plane was flying at 150mph at 900ft in the air on July 14 this year
- The object is believed to have been a ‘drone or a balloon’ which was 25ft away
- The incident is the latest in a series of near misses involving drones and airliners
A Thomas Cook jet carrying up to 220 passengers came within 25ft of smashing into a mystery object as it was about to land at Birmingham airport, a report has revealed.
The Airbus A321 was flying at 900ft and at more than 150mph when it narrowly avoided what could have been a catastrophic collision mid air.
A report by the UK Airprox Board which investigates near misses said the pilot believed the object was ‘some sort of balloon or drone’.
It passed ‘directly beneath’ the jet which was flying holidaymakers back from Palma in Mallorca. The pilot estimated it was just 25ft away.
The aircraft was just over three miles north west of the airport when the incident happened just after 11am on July 14 this year.
The Thomas Cook plane was carrying 220 people when the object came within 25ft of colliding with the plane
The report rated it as a Category A incident, meaning there was a serious risk of collision which had only been avoided by ‘providence’.
If the object was a drone, it was being flown at more than double the legal maximum height of 400ft for the gadgets.
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Aircraft incident categories explained:
Aircraft incidents are split in five categories.
A) Risk of Collision: aircraft proximity in which serious risk of collision has existed
B) Safety not assured: aircraft proximity in which the safety of the aircraft may have been compromised
C) No risk of collision: aircraft proximity in which no risk of collision has existed or risk was averted.
D) Risk not determined: aircraft proximity in which insufficient information was available to determine the risk involved, or inconclusive or conflicting evidence precluded such determination
E) Met the criteria for reporting but, by analysis, it was determined that normal procedures, safety standards and parameters pertained
Drone operators are also expected to say well clear of flightpaths approaching airports.
Anyone convicted of endangering an aircraft with a drone can be jailed for up to five years.
A Thomas Cook Airlines spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that on approach to Birmingham, pilots operating MT1249 on 14 July 2018 reported seeing a drone or balloon.
‘Safety is always our first priority and while these sightings are rare, we encourage all of our pilots to report anything of this nature.’
The incident is the latest in a series of near misses involving drones and airliners in UK air space.
Earlier this month it was revealed that a Swiss International Air Lines flight from Zurich approaching Heathrow came within 50ft of hitting a drone at 1,300ft over the Richmond area in south west London.
It was disclosed last month that a Virgin Atlantic jet on the same flightpath to Heathrow came within 10ft of hitting a drone near Clapham Common after a flight from Delhi.
The pilot believed the object in the air could have been a drone. There have been multiple near misses at UK airports despite owners being banned from flying in UK airspace
It was reported in March that near misses involving drones had tripled over the last two years with 92 reported last year and just 29 in 2015.
A recent study, part-funded by the Department for Transport, found that a mid-air collision between a 4lb drone could ‘critically damage’ a plane windscreen.
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