Drone and two-seater plane in near miss near Gamston Airport

A drone pilot prevented a mid-air collision over Ordsall near Gamston Airport by halting a descent as a small aircraft passed 200 ft underneath it.

By Ben McVay
Friday, 4th September 2020, 7:00 am

The emergency services drone operator was preparing to land the aircraft at an altitude of 400 feet when a two-seat Cessna 150 flew over his head and underneath it - at an estimated height of 200 feet.

A report by the UK Airprox Board - responsible for air safety - told how of all four Cessna pilots known to have been in the air at the time none reported seeing a drone at the time of the near miss - around 11.15am on May 19.

The findings showed the drone’s remote pilot was given permission to fly within the airport’s 5km flight restriction zone - with all flying aircraft informed and rerouted to avoid Ordsall.

A drone. Stock image

However it was not clear whether the location of the drone was relayed incorrectly to the Cessna pilot who flew underneath it or whether they had misunderstood the instructions.

Discussing possible reasons for the near collision members of the airprox board say if the Cessna pilot had mistaken the drone’s location they may have approached at a lower altitude.

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This could have resulted in a ‘base-leg’ landing - where a pilot approaches on a short descending flight path.

The report read: “They would have been concentrating on looking at the runway to set the aircraft up for turning onto final, this was probably why the pilot did not see the drone operating above.”

Members concluded that ‘there was no risk of collision’ as the drone operator had seen the C150 and stopped its descent until the aircraft had safely passed underneath.

Board members highlighted that it was the responsibility of ‘both the C150 pilot and the drone operator for collision avoidance’.

However the report read: “Smaller drones can be very difficult to see until the aircraft are closer than normal.

“The board hoped that this incident would serve to increase the awareness of both pilots and drone operators of the hazards associated with drone operations.”

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