Airbus A320 suffers near-miss incident above London with more than one drone in UK aviation first

Chloe Farand
The Civil Aviation Authority said it was the first time an incident involved more than one drone: AP

A passenger plane approaching Heathrow Airport has been involved in a near-miss incident with more than one drone for the first time in UK aviation.

An Airbus A320 was flying over east London when the crew spotted two white orb-shaped drones below the aircraft.

A report by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) found the incident “compromised the safety of the aircraft” and one pilot said that if the plane had been on a shorter approach path, it would have “posed a significant risk of collusion”.

The plane was flying at 5,500ft above London and the drones got as close as 500 metres to the aircraft, according to the report.

The crew is said to have remained “in constant visual contact” with the drones to avoid collision.

“The board considers that the drone operator had endangered the A320 and its occupants," the report concluded.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was the first time a near-miss incident involved more than one drone.

Half an hour later, a Boeing B777 reported seeing “a large white drone, about two metres across and with four prongs” flying about 50 metres from the aircraft. It was believed to be one of the drones spotted earlier.

The Met Police was informed of the incident, which happened last November, but the person flying the drones could not be traced.

According to the UKAB’s monthly reports, there has been been five near-misses between aircraft and drones in March, bringing the total to 62 over the past 12 months.

Under CAA rules, drones must not be flown above 400ft or near airports or airfields.

Calls to police over drone related incidents soared by 352 per cent in a year and experts, concerned for public safety, have called for urgent regulation.