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Drone warning issue after two near-misses at airports

Worries grow over unmanned aircraft flying near airports following two incidents this week in Europe.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

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A near miss involving a drone flying just metres from an Airbus A320 at Europe's busiest airport, Heathrow, has prompted Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to issue a warning to drone-users.

The incident comes just days after a Lufthansa plane with 108 passengers on board nearly collided with a drone, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), on Monday as it approached Warsaw's main airport in Poland, coming within 100 metres of the Embraer plane.

At UK airports, there have been seven recorded occurences of drones flying near planes between May 2014 and March 2015; the most serious of which involved a small black object flying six metres above an A320 aircraft's wing as it came into land at Heathrow.

"Drone users must understand that when taking to the skies they are entering one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world," commented CAA director of policy Tim Johnson.

Under the UK's existing Air Navigation Order, drone pilots must keep their craft within sight and not fly them higher than 122 metres.

The European Union is currently working on new regulations for drones, due to be presented before the end of the year as part of the European Commission's new aviation package.

Among the few member states with specific regulations, Germany introduced new rules in June that prevent the use of drones within 1.5 kilometres of airport perimeter fences.Anyone wishing to fly a drone beyond that exclusion zone and in controlled airspace must request permission from air traffic authorities and fly no higher than 50 metres, depending on the size of the aircraft.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) announced in January that it would publish a set of rules to regulate the use of drones in the UAE, following a recreational drone causing Dubai airport to suspend operations for almost an hour that month.

The device flew near critical flight paths.

In March Abu Dhabi has banned the sale of recreational drones pending new regulations to control their use. 

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