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BA Plane Strike 'Did Not Involve A Drone'

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A plane believed to have been hit by an object as it approached Heathrow is now not thought to have been struck by a drone.

The pilot of the British Airways flight from Geneva reported the front of the Airbus A320 had been hit as it made its descent on 17 April. 

But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs it is believed "that was not a drone incident".

An investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has been closed because of lack of evidence.

A spokesman said: "We made initial inquiries but there was insufficient information on what object was involved for us to take it further."

BA said the plane, carrying 132 passengers and five crew, landed safely at Heathrow Terminal 5 following the incident and was examined by engineers before being cleared to take off on its next flight. 

A police investigation was launched and a search carried out for suspects and debris in Richmond, southwest London.

Officers said they searched a "wide area" but did not find anything. 

Transport minister Robert Goodwill told a Lords' sub-committee last week that reports the jet was hit by a drone had not been confirmed.

He said: "There was no actual damage to the plane and there is indeed some speculation it may have been even a plastic bag or something.

"The pilot has a lot of other things to concentrate on (when landing) so we're not quite sure what they saw."

There have been a number of reports of near-misses involving drones and aircraft in UK airspace in the last year.

In March, a report released by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) found 23 cases in the six months between April and October last year.

The Civil Aviation Authority "drone code" says they should be kept away from planes, airfields and airports, and not flown above 122m (400ft).

Drones fitted with cameras must not be flown within 50m (164ft) of people, vehicles or buildings, or over congested areas or large gatherings such as concerts and sports events.

Ministers are examining the possibility of introducing a drone registration scheme in the UK, similar to those already in place in Ireland and the US.


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