Recent reports of an unidentified flying object striking a British Airways flight at London’s Heathrow Airport spurred a wave of fear over drones interfering with commercial aircraft. But now it appears the object may have only been a floating plastic bag, according to British transport minister Robert Goodwill.
The Telegraph reports that Goodwill could not confirm the identity of the object that struck the British Airways Airbus A320 as it prepared to land last Sunday. The incident happened at an altitude of about 1,700 feet over southwest London, well above the regulatory ceiling for drone operations of 400 feet.
“The reported drone strike on Sunday has not been confirmed it was actually a drone,” Goodwill said. “It was the local police force that tweeted that they had a report of a drone striking an aircraft.” That social media message may have been prompted by fear of drones in response to recent British government reports of near-misses with drones by aircraft around London.
However, there was no physical damage to the Airbus of any kind, Goodwill noted. “There’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something,” the transport minister said in a statement. “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. We’re not quite sure what they saw, so I think we should maybe not overreact too much.”
Source: Ars Technica