Passenger jet swerves to avoid drone near Gatwick Airport

A passenger jet approaching London’s Gatwick Airport was forced to take evasive action after the pilot noticed a drone ahead, a near-miss report revealed.

The incident occurred in April and involved an Airbus A320, which can carry up to 186 passengers.

The plane’s pilot reported that he “saw a dark colored drone ahead” and “avoiding action of a 5-8° bank to the right was taken,” according to a summary of the report published by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) body.

The organization graded the incident as having the highest category of risk.

It came months after reported drone sightings at Gatwick grounded flights over the Christmas period and disrupted the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of people.

No airline or flight number was released as part of the reported, but airlines including British Airways and EasyJet operate Airbus A320s from Gatwick.

It is illegal to fly a drone above 400 feet or within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of an airport boundary, and UKAB reported that the drone was breaching those regulations.

Its summary added that the drone “was endangering other aircraft at that location.”

“The Board considered that the pilot’s overall account of the incident portrayed a situation where although safety had been reduced, avoiding action was able to be taken,” it concluded.

The incident was one of 10 reported drone sightings collated in UKAB’s most recent monthly summary, five of which occurred near Heathrow, the UK’s main airport. Another four objects spotted by pilots were unidentified, and four of the 14 total incidents were graded as carrying the highest level of risk.