Major incident declared as drone narrowly misses plane in Calderdale

A drone narrowly missed a plane over Todmorden
A drone narrowly missed a plane over Todmorden

More than 300 near misses between drones and aircraft across the UK have been recorded including a 'major incident in Calderdale.

This includes four near accidents in the skies above Yorkshire and Humberside, a special investigation by The JPI Media data team.

One of these incidents was in the sky above Todmorden.

The commercial air flight was cruising at 14,000f feet when the pilot and crew saw a black object ahead in the sky.

They first thought it was a fast jet but as they got closre it became apparent that it was a drone, which passed directly beneath them.

The UK Airprox Board, which investigates aeroplane near-misses, declared the recording on July 12, 2017, at 7.09pm as major incident the second-highest severity level.

The board said said the drone was being flown beyond practical limits and was endangering other aircraft at that location and altitude.

It was just one of 300 near-misses recorded involving drones and aircraft across the UK, over the last eight years.

The JPI Media Data Team, investigating revealed other near-accidents over the skies in Yorkshire.

One of these was at Leeds Bradford Airport when a Boeing 737 was preparing to land but had a near miss with a drone over central Leeds.

The pilot estimates the craft missed them by just 1,000 ft.

Another incident last June saw the highest reported sighting of a drone by a pilot at 15,500ft, nearly 40 times the legal maximum. It came within 100ft of an Airbus 321, which had just left Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Drone sightings brought 36 hours of chaos to Gatwick Airport in the run-up to Christmas, with runways closed and 1,000 flights affected in what police described as a “deliberate act” of disruption.

But pilots had started to report narrowly-missing drones in the sky from 2010 onwards, analysis of hundreds of official reports shows.

Since the shutdowns, the Government has faced criticism that the events were foreseeable and more should have been done to prevent them.

The Department for Transport has said there are already laws against such malicious acts. Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, said: “The actions of these drone users were not only irresponsible, but illegal.

The law could not be clearer that this is a criminal offence and anyone endangering others in this way faces imprisonment.

“Airports have measures in place to counter this threat.

“The Government is also increasing police powers to clamp down on drone misuse, and extending no-fly zones around airports to ensure our skies are safe.”

Two-thirds of the near-collisions seen in the UK so far involved commercial passenger flights, with drones frequently being flown above regulatory height limits or within restricted airport zones.

Phil Forster, spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “In conjunction with West Yorkshire Police the airport has a robust response and contingency plan in place to mitigate any unauthorised drone activity.

“Due to the sensitive nature of this subject we are unable to give exact details of the plan.

“Regarding day to day activity, we continue to have an excellent relationship with our local commercial drone operators which includes an effective booking process and operating procedures.”

Irresponsible drone operators are rarely tracked down, the UK Airprox (Aircraft Proximity) Board documents show.

The Government is also increasing police powers to clamp down on drone misuse, and extending no-fly zones around airports to ensure our skies are safe.