The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) released their reviews of 25 recently reported air proximity occurrences. Four of these cases involved drones.
On 13 October 2015, the pilot of an Airbus A380 reported being on the DET 1J SID from London-Heathrow Airport. In the right turn, the crew observed a large object at the same altitude which appeared to be taking avoiding action. The object passed within 70-80m, down the port side. It was greyish-white in colour, had a span of about 2m and was semi-circular in design; it appeared to have propulsion at the rear of the structure. No avoiding action was necessary. They advised ATC of the sighting, and a follow-up call was made to the airport police.
Reported separation: 150 ft (46 m) vertical / 262 ft (80 m) horizontal.
Flight involved: EK030 London-Heathrow (LHR) – Dubai (DXB); Airbus A380 A6-EEE
On 28 November 2015, the pilot of an Airbus A319 reported that at approx. 1900ft on final approach to London-Heathrow Airport both crew members spotted an object moving rapidly from west to east roughly half a mile to the south of their position. Its height was hard to judge because its size was unknown, but it was thought to be between 400-900ft below them, and was noticeable due to the sunlight glinting off its upper surface. It was overhead Richmond and heading towards Richmond Park. They assessed its flight path as no risk to their own so continued with the approach, had it been further north they felt they would have needed to go-around. Given that they saw the drone at the same time as final configuration for landing, during a high cockpit workload, they considered that it was highly distracting.
Reported separation: 400-900 ft (121-274 m) vertical / 0,5 NM (926 m) horizontal.
Flight involved: BA831 Dublin (DUB) – London-Heathrow (LHR); Airbus A319 G-EUOC
On 28 November 2015, the pilot of an Airbus A321 reported conducting a normal ILS Approach to RW26L at London-Gatwick Airport. The Captain was flying (PF) and the reporting pilot was pilot monitoring (PM). At 100ft agl he saw what he assumed was a bird hovering at about that height above the RW26L touchdown markers, on the centreline, which did not warrant mentioning. He kept watching, with increasing suspicion as the object remained in the same spot in the front cockpit window, hovering, entirely stationary, and not ‘flapping’, unlike a bird. At about 30ft agl, when just about to land, he realised it was a drone with a dark/black colour frame. He lost sight of the drone at 20ft agl and continued for a normal landing. He noted that there was not enough time to state or discuss the sighting with the PF at such a critical phase of flight.
Reported separation: 80 ft (24 m) vertical / 0 ft horizontal.
Flight involved: ZB265 Alicante (ALC) – London-Gatwick (LGW); Airbus A321 G-ZBAM
On 6 December 2015, the pilot of an ERJ-190 reported that he was on final approach to London City, passing 1000ft when he saw a red and black UAV. He reported that there was a high cockpit workload as they were landing, and it was too late to take any avoiding action. The drone passed overhead by 100ft and 50m to the port side. It could have been stationary, but the wind at this level was in excess of 20kts. He believed that the aircraft about 2mins ahead of him had also reported seeing the drone.
Reported separation: 100 ft vertical (30 m) / 164 ft (50 m) horizontal.