Drones: People 'don't understand the risks', claims flight safety expert

Flight safety expert Captain Martin Alder has warned that people not involved in aviation 'won't understand the risks' of drones

A British Airways flight coming in to land

Friday, April 29, 2016

Flight safety expert Captain Martin Alder has warned that people not involved in aviation 'won't understand the risks' of drones.

A recent incident at Heathrow demonstrated the dangers when, as an Airbus 320 came into land, it was struck by an object, believed initially to be a drone.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill admitted last week authorities had not confirmed whether what struck the plane was a remote-controlled device, and added it "may have been a plastic bag." 

Yesterday (Thursday), British Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told Parliament the event "was probably not a drone incident", but Captain Alder, a flight safety expert with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), insists the potential perils of drones should not be taken lightly.

He said: "The thing with is you can go to a shop and buy one with no knowledge whatsoever of the rules and regulations. Flying it near to Heathrow, there is a risk you could hit an aeorplane, or be hit by an aeorplane inadvertedly.

"If you're not involved with aviation, you won't understand the risks."

Drones are not allowed to be flown above 400 feet but, in 2015, there were 40 incidents where they nearly hit commercial aircraft. And Captain Alder has called for a solution to be found to this problem "at a practical level."

"We appreciate people like to use these drones and enjoy them," he added. "We need to find a solution which would allow people to use them without being a risk to airspaces."