As more and more hobbyists are exploring the use of drones for recreational activities, their presence is starting to cause problems in the sky. A drone collided with a commercial plane in Canada last Thursday. Six passengers and two crew members were on board the Skyjet flight on Oct. 12 when the drone hit one of the plane’s wings.
The incident was the first of its kind in the country, according to the Transport Ministry. The plane sustained minimal damage and landed safely. It was en route to Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport.
It is illegal for people to fly recreational drones near airports in Canada. Drones are not allowed to fly within 5.5km of an airport and are prohibited from flying higher than 90 metres. Those who break the law face a $25,000 fine. The drone that hit the Skyjet plane was not flying in the restricted area near the airport; however, it was hovering 450 metres above the ground.
Transport minister Marc Garneau said in a statement: “Although the vast majority of drone operators fly responsibly, it was our concern for incidents like this that prompted me to take action and issue interim safety measures restricting where recreational drones could be flown.
“I would like to remind drone operators that endangering the safety of an aircraft is extremely dangerous and a serious offense.”
Garneau added during a news conference: “If a drone were to hit the window of a cockpit and incapacitate the pilot, or was to damage in any way an engine, this could have catastrophic results.”
It isn’t the first time a drone has come into close contact with an airplane. Earlier this summer, a drone flew over the wing of an aircraft approaching Gatwick Airport in England. Another drone flew close to an aircraft in China, and the pilot of the device was detained.
Dubai International Airport is the third busiest in the world and is testing out a device called a “drone hunter,” which will detect drones that fly too close to the airport. The facility has been shut down on several occasions over drone activity.
This year, authorities in Canada have received 1,600 reports of drone incidents, 131 of which were related to aviation safety.