A jetliner pilot managed to avoid a catastrophe at an airport in the north of Spain by taking “evasive” action and dodge three aerial drones while attempting to land at the Bilbao airport. The Lufthansa flight was fully loaded with passengers when it started its landing procedures when the near-miss occurred. The day was sunny, with clear visibility, and thus allowed the pilots to quickly take action.
Three drones were spotted at approximately 3000 feet within protected air space when the Lufthansa jetliner began its descent. The Airbus 320 "an evasive manoeuvre" to avoid what could have been a disastrous collision. According to local reports, passengers onboard could see the aerial drones while on the approach to the Bilbao runway.
The incident occurred on May 21. Pilots reported the drones to the airport control tower as the flight came in from Frankfurt. It was the most serious such incident reported so far at the airport in Bilbao, a city on the Bay of Biscay. The pilot luckily sighted the drones because during the most critical stage in the landing process, the crew is usually concerned with the instrumentation.
While a search has been launched for the operators of the drones, amateur drone enthusiasts are not currently suspected. Local law enforcement contend that the three drones reached such altitudes over the Loui airport that the drones were likely professional types. Because each drone weighed between 5 to more than 6 pound, an impact on a jetliner during a landing procedure at 150 miles per hour could have been disastrous. A police helicopter, which went aloft to search for the drones, found nothing.
Spain’s Agency for Aerial Navigation is conducting an investigation into the near-miss. It is against the law to fly drones above an altitude of 394 feet in Spain. Violators can be fined as much as 250,000 euros ($280,000).
Reports of illegal flying of drones and near-misses with commercial and military aircraft are popping up all over the world. According to a report by the Remote Control Project of the Oxford Research Group of the UK, "Drones will be used as simple, affordable and effective airborne improvised explosive devices." Entitled ‘The Hostile Use of Drone by Non-State Actors Against British Targets,’ the report says that targets ranging from the prime minister to high profile buildings and embassies are potential targets for remote-controlled flying bombs. After analyzing 200 drones that can be purchased either online or hobby shops, the report concluded: "The technology of remote-control warfare is impossible to control."
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