A drone has nearly collided with a Lufthansa flight as it neared Warsaw's main airport. The rising popularity of remote-controlled drones has posed new safety challenges for commercial aviation.
A Lufthansa plane nearly collided with a drone as it approached Warsaw's Chopin international airport, officials said Tuesday.
The drone passed within 100 meters of the Embraer 195 plane on Monday afternoon as the aircraft was at a height of about 760 meters, Lufthansa and the Polish Air Navigation Services (PANSA) said. The plane, which was traveling from Munich to Warsaw, was carrying 108 passengers.
The plane landed safely shortly after 4 p.m. local time (1400 UTC/GMT). PANSA altered landing directions for other planes flying into Warsaw until the area was clear.
According to the Aviation Herald, which first reported the incident, the plane's pilots told air traffic controllers that they "should take care of your airspace," saying "it is really quite dangerous."
The biggest risk posed by drones to planes is if they are sucked into the engines, causing a stall similar to the potential effects of a bird strike. In New York, a commercial jet narrowly averted hitting a drone as it approached the city's LaGuardia airport in May.
The proliferation of remote-controlled drones has created new safety challenges for commercial aviation
Warsaw airport spokesman Przemyslaw Przybylski said the incident occurred five kilometers south of the capital, near the town of Piaseczno. Police are currently investigating to determine who was operating the drone.
Remote-controlled drones have been growing in popularity in recent years, and in Poland they are inexpensive and easy to acquire. Polish regulations largely ban them within a 20-kilometer radius of airports, but Przybylski told broadcaster TVN24 that authorities were unable to check whether "some idiot does not suddenly decide to fly a drone in front of a landing plane."
Lufthansa has been more cautious in declaring the object a drone, with spokeswoman Bettina Rittberger saying that "a black object appeared on the right side of the plane," and that the crew "supposed that this object could be a drone."
Germany in June introduced new rules that prohibit the use of drones within 1.5 kilometers of airport perimeter fences.
bw/msh (AP, Reuters)