A British Airways airliner has collided with a suspected drone during its landing approach at Europe's busiest airport. Investigators say no one was hurt and the flight landed safely at London's Heathrow airport.
An investigation was launched Sunday in the latest of a string of near misses involving drones and civilian aircraft.
The Airbus A320 with 137 passengers and crew on board was making its final approach at around 12:50 p.m. Sunday when the pilot radioed the control tower to report a midair collision.
"A pilot on an inbound flight into Heathrow Airport from Geneva reported to police that he believed a drone had struck the aircraft," a spokeswoman for London's Metropolitan Police said.
The flight landed safely and was immediately checked but found to be undamaged and cleared for its next flight.
But aviation officials say this latest incident is part of a growing pattern. Last month there were 23 near-misses in the UK alone, the UK Airprox Board, an air safety agency, said.
Drone strikes on the rise
Similar incidents of drones harrassing commercial aircraft have been reported at Heathrow airport in London
That has led to growing concern in the industry that a tragic accident is increasingly possible.
"It was only a matter of time before we had a drone strike given the huge numbers being flown around by amateurs who don't understand the risks and the rules," said Steve Landells, flight safety specialist at the British Airline Pilots Association.
Britain's Civil Aviation Authority says it is "totally unacceptable" to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules faced possible imprisonment.
UK law expressly forbids drones near planes, helicopters and airports and must operate below 400 feet (122 metres) at all times.
jar/rc (Reuters, AFP)