Category Archives: United Kingdom

Drone airpox report involving an Airbus A340-600 near Chigwell

The UK Airprox Board investigated a drone near-miss reported by an Airbus A340-600 near Chigwell on 28 June 2016. Separation distance reported as 100-200 feet.

The pilot reported that he was in descent through FL090 when a drone was sighted just below and to the right of the nose of the aircraft. The drone was a multi-copter type and passed about 100- 200ft below his aircraft he estimated

Reported separation: 100-200 ft (30-61 m) vertical / 50 ft (15 m) horizontal.

Aircraft:  Airbus A340-642
Operator: Virgin Atlantic
Registration: G-VWEB
Flight: VS401
Aircraft altitude: 9000 ft
Separation: 100-200 feet
Source: UKAB


Please note:

Please note that separation distances are solely based on pilot’s judgements and not necessarily accurate since horizontal and vertical separation distances can be hard to judge.

Drone airpox report involving a Cessna 560XL Citation XLS near Biggin Hill Airport

The UK Airprox Board investigated a drone near-miss reported by a Cessna 560XL Citation XLS near Biggin Hill Airport on 25 June 2016. Separation distance reported as less than 200 feet.

The pilot reported that they were taking radar vectors for weather avoidance and had a high cockpit workload. The PM visually acquired a contact on the nose at a range of about 1/2nm, and estimated it to be below. He made the PF, who was in the right-hand seat, aware and within 2 seconds of the PF acquiring the contact (and 5 seconds from when the PM had first seen it), a drone passed down the right-hand-side of the aircraft, 20ft below and 30ft to the right of the cockpit position, therefore only just beyond the wing-span. The object was a day-glo orange drone with 4 rotors and an under-slung camera housing with a ‘fisheye’ lens bubble, estimated to be about 1 cubic ft. It could have been hovering, although it looked to be slowly drawing to the right.

Reported separation: 20 ft (6 m) vertical / 32 ft (10 m) horizontal.

Aircraft:  Cessna 560XL Citation XLS
Operator:
Registration:
Flight:
Aircraft altitude: 3000 ft
Separation: 32 feet
Source: UKAB


Please note:

Please note that separation distances are solely based on pilot’s judgements and not necessarily accurate since horizontal and vertical separation distances can be hard to judge.

Drone airpox report involving a Boeing 747 near London Heathrow Airport

The UK Airprox Board investigated a drone near-miss reported by a Boeing 747  near London Heathrow Airport on 23 June 2016. Separation distance reported as less than 200 feet.

The 747 pilot reported that he was inbound to Heathrow and positioning downwind at 4000ft when a drone passed over the nose of the aircraft, about 100ft above. No avoiding action was taken.

Reported separation: 100 ft (30 m) vertical / 0 ft (0 m) horizontal.

Aircraft:  Boeing 747
Operator:
Registration:
Flight:
Aircraft altitude: 4000 ft
Separation: 100 feet
Source: UKAB


Please note:

Please note that separation distances are solely based on pilot’s judgements and not necessarily accurate since horizontal and vertical separation distances can be hard to judge.

Drone airpox report involving a Jabiru J430 near Welshpool

The UK Airprox Board investigated a drone near-miss reported by a Jabiru J430 near Welshpool on 23 June 2016. Separation distance reported as less than 150 m.

The J430 pilot reported downwind in the visual circuit for Runway 22 at Welshpool Airport (EGCW), about 1nm east abeam ‘the 22 numbers’. He saw a white drone in the left 11 o’clock position, about 50m below him, which moved quickly in front of his aircraft and climbed to the 2 o’clock position, about 100ft above, at which point he lost sight of it against the white cloud and behind his wing. He commented that he was well inside the Welshpool ATZ and that the presence of the drone was a needless distraction. He noted that he was surprised at the speed at which the drone moved and the difficulty in judging distance with a small fast-moving object.

Reported separation: 0 ft (0 m) vertical / 490 ft (150 m) horizontal.

Aircraft:  Jabiru J430
Operator:
Registration:
Flight:
Aircraft altitude: 1500 ft
Separation: 490 feet
Source: UKAB


Please note:

Please note that separation distances are solely based on pilot’s judgements and not necessarily accurate since horizontal and vertical separation distances can be hard to judge.

Drone airpox report involving a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner near London Heathrow Airport

The UK Airprox Board investigated a drone near-miss reported by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner near London Heathrow Airport on 20 June 2016. Separation distance reported as less than 200 feet.

The 787 pilot reported after departing from Heathrow runway 27L, whilst climbing to 6000ft they turned left in accordance with the SID and established contact with London control. A radar heading of 130° was given. Approximately 2nm from EPM VOR the captain spotted a flying object in the distance, 12 o’clock position, slightly below. There was no TCAS contact or Traffic Information. Only once the object passed beneath the aircraft was it obvious that it was an unmanned drone, metallic green in colour with two ellipsoidal pods. The drone could have been hovering, but the perspective made it look as though it was flying in the opposite direction, vertical separation was not more than 200ft.

Reported separation: <200 ft (61 m) vertical / 0 ft (0 m) horizontal.

Aircraft:  Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Operator: Royal Brunei Airlines
Registration: V8-DLA
Flight: BI98
Aircraft altitude: 6000 ft
Separation: < 200 feet
Source: UKAB


Please note:

Please note that separation distances are solely based on pilot’s judgements and not necessarily accurate since horizontal and vertical separation distances can be hard to judge.

Boeing 737 involved in drone near miss incident near Leeds/Bradford Airport

The pilot of a Boeing 737 reported a near miss with a drone while on final approach to runway 32 at Leeds/Bradford Airport (LBA), U.K. on July 9, 2015

The aircraft was passing through 1800 feet on the ILS at the time. Both crew saw a black and white, 4-rotor helicopter type drone to the left of them. The drone was seen too late to take avoiding action and passed abeam them. The assessed the risk of collision as ‘Medium’.

Members of the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) agreed that, even had they been operating using first-person view (FPV), the quadcopter operator should neither have allowed the drone to fly above 1000 feet nor operate over a built-up area. Therefore, because the drone was being flown inappropriately, they determined the cause of the Airprox to be that the drone had been flown into conflict with the B737.
For the drone to have been identified specifically as a black and white 4-rotor drone this indicated that it was probably closer than the pilots’ estimate of 300m. As a result, the Board considered that, in this case, it was therefore likely that safety margins had been much reduced below the normal.

DHC-8 in near miss incident with a drone near London City Airport

According to UKAB airprox report, a passenger plane was involved in a near miss with a drone on April 19, 2015 at 14:15 hours local time.

The DHC-8 was being vectored for an ILS approach to runway 09 at London City Airport, U.K. When the aircraft was approximately 3 miles south of London City Airport, and downwind right-hand for runway 09, the pilot reported seeing a drone at approximately 200m range and at the same height of 2000ft. The pilot reported the incident to ATC at the time. After landing the pilot and co-pilot, who had also seen the object, agreed that the miss distance was likely to be 50-150m and that the object was at least 1 metre in size, was black and white in colour and had some letters on it (the second of which may have been an X). A query to London City Tower after landing confirmed that they had had a similar report but not on that day. A passenger on the aircraft also reported seeing a black and white object. A review of the radar did not show any contact in the vicinity.

The U.K. Airprox Board assessed that safety margins had been much reduced below the norm.

 

Near miss report of Boeing 757 with small drone near Manchester, U.K.

The U.K. Airprox Board (UKAB) details a jetliner’s near miss with a drone close to Manchester, England.

A Boeing 757 (G-TCBB), operated by Thomas Cook Airlines was on a scheduled flight TCX2528 from Manchester to Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt and making a DESIG departure from runway 05L. At 10:10 hours the aircraft had just passed approximately 4 miles on the climb out and 2300 feet when the pilot reported passing a drone ‘very close’. In a later written report this was stated as approximately 200 metres away. At this point the controller had already given a take-off clearance to the next aircraft which, once airborne, was given a left turn to climb to the north and away from the area of the reported drone sighting.

The pilot of the second aircraft, an Embraer 190, also reported seeing the drone at 10:11:50, stating that it was at approximately 3000 feet. Both pilots reported that it was small in size. The drone did not generate a radar track. Following this occurrence Manchester stopped all departures from runway 05L and, at 1030, commenced departures from runway 23L. A Police helicopter that was airborne took up a search but nothing was observed. Runway 05L operations resumed at 11:00.

 

UK Airprox Board details two near miss incidents involving drones

In it’s monthly report of February 2015, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) details two near-miss incidents involving quadcopter drones and a helicopter and paraglider.

On September 30, 2014 the pilot of an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter reported flying an ILS approach into Norwich and was just above the Rackheath Industrial estate at 1000 feet when the crew saw a UAV very close to the aircraft. Although it was difficult to judge distance due to not knowing the actual size of the drone, the crew estimated that it was level with their aircraft, in the 10 o’clock position and 50m away, almost perfectly on the ILS glideslope. The incident happened very quickly but, from the brief glimpse they had of the UAV, it was a type of quadcopter with rotors on the corners. They immediately broke off
the ILS and continued with a visual approach.

In determining the cause of the Airprox, the Board agreed that the quadcopter had been flown into conflict with the AW139, and that a contributory factor had been that the Quadcopter had been flown in the Norwich approach path. The Board noted the AW139’s estimate of proximity, and that he had to manoeuvre to avoid the quadcopter; they therefore assessed the risk as Category B, safety margins had been much reduced below the normal.

The second incident occurred on October 2, 2014. A paraglider reported that he was ridge-soaring near Rushup Edge in a purple and white paraglider. The pilot was operating under VFR in VMC in ‘strong winds’ and therefore relatively high, at about 150ft. He saw a ‘DJI Phantom FC40 type’ quadcopter drone descend to about 20ft above his canopy. He noted it was quite hard to see against the grey sky, even with a row of green and orange LEDs on the underside. The pilot reported that he couldn’t see anyone on the ridge or in the fields below ‘with a radio unit’ and assumed the quadcopter had a camera and was being flown out of line of vision using a remote screen to monitor the ‘view’ from the drone. He stated that each time he changed direction the quadcopter tracked the change and followed him, with about 25ft vertical separation and between zero and 25ft horizontal separation. Whilst quite interesting to watch, and remarkably stable in strong winds, the hazard of a collision with his thin canopy-to-harness lines caused serious concern. The quadcopter flew close on a number of occasions and, he suspected, was taking video footage of his paraglider with an onboard camera. It flew at estimated heights of between 150ft and much higher, to the point of barely being visible. The paraglider pilot flew the length of the ridge a couple of times, looking for someone with a remote control transmitter, but couldn’t see anyone. He stated that some time after landing, another pilot told him they had seen the quadcopter fly down to the road where it was landed and loaded into a car. He opined that the quadcopter operator may have piloted the craft from inside the car.

The UKAB Board Members unanimously agreed that it was clear that the quadcopter had been flown into conflict with the paraglider. They considered that the lack of available control of the quadcopter, and the inability of its operator to properly perceive closing distances and rates, meant that chance had played a major part in events and safety had been very much reduced below acceptable levels; short of the paraglider pilot landing immediately, nothing more could have been done by him to improve matters given that the quadcopter operator seemed to have been deliberately following him in flight.

 

 

CAA updates guidance on drone operations in UK airspace

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published an updated version of its guidance document “Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace” (CAP722).

Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance, is intended to assist those who are involved in all aspects of the development of drones/UAS to identify the route to certification, outline the methods by which permission for aerial work may be obtained and ensure that all requirements are met by the UAS industry. The document highlights the safety requirements that have to be met before a UAS is allowed to operate in the UK.