Category Archives: Incidents

Drone airpox report involving an Airbus A320 near Basel, Switzerland

The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) investigated a drone near-miss reported by an Airbus A320 near Basel Airport, Switzerland on 14 July 2016. Separation distance was reported as 10 meters.

Flight EZY1045 was a scheduled flight from Amsterdam (EHAM) to Basel (LFSB) with 169 passengers and 6 crew members on board.
After an uneventful flight, the aircraft was making a stabilised ILS approach to runway 33 when, at approximately 2100 ft AMSL and a distance of approximately 3.4 NM from the runway threshold – i.e. roughly level with Basel’s Schützenmatte stadium – the flight crew spotted a drone directly in the line of approach. The pilot assessed this to be a white drone with red lights, which was stationary or moving forwards at a slow speed, at a vertical distance of approximately 10 metres. In the remaining few seconds, the flight crew did not have time to avoid the flying object. The pilot immediately reported the near collision to the airport controller at Basel Airport.
The flight crew continued with the approach and the aircraft landed without incident.

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

Aircraft:  Airbus A320-214
Operator: easyJet
Registration: G-EZPA
Flight: EZY1045
Aircraft altitude:  2100 ft
Separation: 10 meters
Source: SUST

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.

Finnair flight reports near miss with drone at Hamburg Airport, Germany

A Finnair flight from Helsinki, Finland to Hamburg Airport, Germany reported a near miss with a drone as the aircraft was approaching to land.

On Sunday September 20, 2015, Finnair flight AY855 was on final approach to runway 23 at Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport (HAM/EDDH) when the crew noticed a drone at 250 m (820 feet) altitude, 30 m from their aircraft. They reported the drone to air traffic control.

The tower controller in turn notified Hamburg Police. The drone operator was not found. The drone was operated within a 1,5 km radius of the airport and without authorization.

The aircraft, an Embraer ERJ-190LR, registration OH-LKK, carried 80 passengers and 4 crew members.

Source: German Police

ATSB investigating drone accident near Toowoomba Airport

The ATSB is investigating an in-flight failure and subsequent collision with a vehicle involving a DJI S900 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).

The accident occurred on September 19, 2015 near Toowoomba Airport, Queensland. About 30 seconds after the drone became airborne, one of the carbon fibre arms fractured. It rolled to the left and descended. The system controller commanded the RPA parachute to deploy, but the RPA collided with the roof of a parked vehicle. No one was injured, but the RPA sustained substantial damage.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview the operator, analyse the fracture, and gather additional information.

A report will be released within several months.

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.


U.S. Pilot reports of close calls with drones increasing in 2015

Pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, from a total of 238 sightings in all of 2014, to more than 650 by August 9 of this year. The

Pilots of a variety of different types of aircraft – including many large, commercial air carriers – reported spotting 16 unmanned aircraft in June of 2014, and 36 the following month. This year, 138 pilots reported seeing drones at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet during the month of June, and another 137 in July.

Meanwhile, firefighters battling wildfire blazes in the western part of the country have been forced to ground their operations on several occasions for safety reasons when they spotted one or more unmanned aircraft in their immediate vicinity.

The FAA is working closely with the law enforcement community to identify and investigate unauthorized unmanned aircraft operations. The FAA has levied civil penalties for a number of unauthorized flights in various parts of the country, and has dozens of open enforcement cases.

More information:

FAA press release
‘Know before you fly’ campaign

Incident: Brussels Airlines A320 near miss with drone at Tel Aviv

Brussels Airlines flight SN3289 from Brussels, Belgium was involved in an airprox incident involving a drone near Tel Aviv, Israel.
The aircraft, an Airbus A320, was flying a runway 30 RNAV GNSS approach to Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) at the time of the incident. It was descending from 4500 feet to 2500 feet on the downwind leg of the approach when at an altitude of 4000 feet, 2 miles past the REBDO waypoint, a black/blue quadcopter was observed by the crew. The drone passed from right to left at the same altitude, at a distance of about 100 meters.
The approach was continued and a safe landing was made.


Two jet aircraft reported drones near New York-JFK

Several U.S. news websites (a.o. CNN) reported of an incident involving a drone and two aircraft near New York-JFK Airport on July 31.

At 14:24 hours local time the crew of a JetBlue flight reported spotting a drone during their approach, passing just below the planes nose when the jet was flying at an altitude of about 800 to 900 feet.

At about 16:50 Delta Flight 407, an MD-88 (N907DL) from Orlando reported seeing a drone about 100 feet under the right wing of the plane.

 More information: ATC Audio

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.


US Airways CRJ-900 has close encounter with drone near Charlotte-Douglas Airport

The Charlotte Observer reports that the crew of US Airways Flight 5220 saw a drone flying at about 2,100 feet while they were approaching the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, NC.

The airplane, a Canadair CRJ-900, was coming from Myrtle Beach, FL and the airplane was approaching runway 23 at about 07:52 hours local time when the crew spotted the unmanned aircraft.

The drone was operated illegaly becaus the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricts people from flying drones within 5 miles of an airport.