Category Archives: United Kingdom

British Army drone operator reports near miss with RAF helicopter

An Airprox was reported when a Royal Air Force (RAF) AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin and a British Army Desert Hawk drone flew into proximity at 11:03 hours on 27th February 2014, within the Stanford Training Area (STANTA), a British Army training area situated in the English county of Norfolk.

The Merlin pilot was operating under VFR in VMC without an ATS. The UAV Operator on the ground was in visual contact with the UAV as it completed a landing.

The Desert Hawk drone was in its pre-planned landing phase in the launch recovery landing zone, and about 20ft off ‘grounding’, when the Merlin helicopter approached the landing zone, travelling southeast to northwest. The UAV Operator perceived the Merlin to be at a height of about 80ft and banking hard to its left over the top of the UAV Ground Control Station location inside the UAV cleared working area. The working area deconfliction had
been cleared through the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), amongst others; the TACP had good 2-way communications with the Merlin crew, and had briefed them on the UAV working area. The UAV Operator was instructed not to abort the landing and to ‘let it come in hard into trees’ to avoid possible collision with the Merlin if the landing was aborted.

In the absence of any recorded information, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) were faced with a
simple conflict in reports regarding the actual location of the UAV and the Merlin’s ground track, which members agreed was not possible to resolve conclusively with the information available.

Airprox Board details A320 near miss incident with helicopter drone at Heathrow

The U.K. Airprox Board (UKAB) published their assessment of an incident on July 22, 2014 when an Airbus A320 came within 20 feet of a helicopter drone.
At the time of the incident the airplane was flying at an altitude of 700 feet while on final approach to runway 09L at London-Heathrow Airport. The altitude of 700 feet would put the plane at a distance of about 2 nautical miles from the runway (3,7 km).

The pilot of the airplane stated that a small black object was seen to the left of the aircraft as they passed 700 feet in the descent, which passed about 20 feet (6 meters) over the wing. It appeared to be a small radio controlled helicopter. The object did not strike his aircraft and he made a normal landing but it was a distraction during a critical phase of flight. ATC was informed of the object’s presence and following aircraft were notified.

The model helicopter did not appear on radar and, from the A320 pilot’s description, was probably of a size that could not be considered likely to do so.

The Board concluded that the cause of the Airprox was that the suspected model helicopter drone had been flown into conflict with the A320, and that the risk amounted to a situation that had stopped just short of an actual collision where separation had been reduced to the minimum.

The identity of the airplane was not revealed in the report, other than the description that it was a ‘blue and white’ A320.
The incident occurred at 14:16 UTC. About the incident time flight BA905 from Milan-Linate was on approach to ruway 09L. The flight was performed by an Airbus A320, G-EUYM. It is not confirmed that this was indeed the incident flight.

Airprox report of Airbus A320 and drone at London-Heathrow

The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) published preliminary information on a near-miss incident involving a drone near London-Heathrow Aiport (LHR).

The pilot of an Airbus A320 reported seeing a helicopter-style drone as he was descending through 700 feet while on final approach to the runway.

The incident occurred on 22 July 2014, 14:16 UTC. During this time runway 09L was in use for arriving traffic. The altitude of 700 feet would put the plane at a distance of about 2 nautical miles from the runway (3,7 km). About the incident time flight BA905 from Milan-Linate was on approach to ruway 09L. The flight was performed by an Airbus A320, G-EUYM. It is not confirmed that this was indeed the incident flight.

The report gave the incident an “A” rating, meaning a “serious risk of collision”. The UKAB investigation is ongoing.