Drone believed to have hit British Airways flight 'may have been a plastic bag'

Transport minister advises against over-speculation of the incident


News Desk April 22, 2016
PHOTO: MASHABLE/FILE

An object widely believed to be a drone struck British Airways plane on Sunday as it was coming in for landing at Heathrow.

However, it has now transpired that the object may actually be a plastic bag, according to British Transport minister Robert Goodwill.

"The reported drone strike on Sunday has not been confirmed it was actually a drone. It was the local police force that tweeted that they had a report of a drone striking an aircraft,” Goodwill said.

Suspected drone hits plane during Heathrow landing

He went on to say that the ‘drone’ may in fact have been a plastic bag. "And indeed the early reports of a dent in the front of the plane were not confirmed - there was no actual damage to the plane and there's indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something.”

The transport minister also advised against over-speculation of the incident. "I've not actually landed a 747 at Heathrow but I've landed the simulator and the pilot has a lot of other things to concentrate on so we're not quite sure what they saw so I think we should maybe not overreact too much."

Goodwill also dismissed calls for tighter rules on drone use to protect against terror threats insisting current rules governing drone use were strong enough.

“It would be much easier for terrorists to attack airports on the ground with rucksacks or car bombs than orchestrate the attack from a drone aircraft,” he said.

Drone crosses path of Aer Lingus plane over France

Further, he warned that any moves to enforce geo-fencing rules would be vulnerable to being hacked by "somebody who could get round that software".

The collision on Sunday night is believed to have been at around 1,700 ft near Richmond Park in south west London, over four times higher than the legal height limit.

Asked what the Government could do to tighten the rules on drone use, Goodwill said, "There are already existing laws in place that require the user of drones to maintain direct unaided visual contact with their vehicle and not to recklessly or negligently permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.”

"So this instance that we've read about and is alleged were already breaking existing legislation and the Department [of Transport] and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are working with a wide range of industry partners across the sector, including manufacturers, airports and airlines to ensure our understanding of potential hazards to aircrafts remains up-to-date," he said.

This article originally appeared on Telegraph.

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