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Plane hits drone while landing, another has near miss

December 17, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A B737 jet operating a scheduled flight is believed to have suffered a head-on collision with a drone in an incident at the weekend, while another B737 reported a very near miss.

Both incidents happened on landing approach, a critical time for flights, and both planes landed safely.

The drone strike involved Mexican airline Aeromexico, domestic flight AM 773 from Guadalajara to Tijuana.

The near miss involved an unidentified B737 passenger aircraft, coming into land at London Stanstead Airport. The flight came within 15 metres of a drone, a hairsbreadth in aviation terms.

After the Mexican incident, images on local media showed significant damage to the nose of the B737-800. Flight crew reported a “pretty loud bang” and asked the control tower to check if the nose was damaged.

Damage to Aeromexico flight AM 773 (a B737-800) after suspected drone strike


“The exact cause is still being investigated,” Grupo Aeromexico said in a statement quoted by the Chicago Tribune at the weekend. “The aircraft landed normally and the passengers’ safety was never compromised.”

The near miss over London occurred when a drone flying at more than 20 times the maximum legal altitude came within 15 metres of a B737 approaching a runway at Stansted Airport, the BBC reported.

The London incident occurred on 17 August 2018 but the investigation has just been made public.

The UK Airprox Board, which investigates near misses, rated the risk of collision as the highest possible, adding that the drone was “endangering other aircraft at that location” and that “providence had played a major part in the incident”.

The incidents confirm that drones pose a growing threat. There are thousands of them and they are hard to pick up on radar. The metallic parts make them potentially more damaging than birds, if an aircraft hits them.

Pilots around the world are reporting thousands of drone sightings and many drone operators are ignoring safety rules.


Last year, Canada’s Transportation Safety Board confirmed that a small drone struck a turboprop carrying six passengers near Quebec on 12 October 2017. Although he impact dented one of the plane’s wings, the commercial flight was able to land safely.

Written by Peter Needham

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