A drone being flown above the permitted height limit almost collided with a light aircraft being flown across Northamptonshire, investigators have found.
The UK Airprox Board, set up to enhance air safety in the UK, has published a report into an incident that happened 2,000ft in the air above Byfield on May 30.
The pilot of the Van’s RV-6 two-seater reported that he had to take evasive action after he saw a drone pass down the left-hand side of his aircraft, 50ft away.
The drone was described as a “red and yellow, three-rotor drone”, which was the “type that can be easily bought in shops and not a commercial surveillance type vehicle”. The drone operator could not be traced after the incident.
According to air safety regulations, drones of these type are not allowed to be flown above 1,000ft.
The incident has been rated a “category B”, meaning the aircraft’s security was compromised.
The report states: “The Board thought that, although it might just be possible for an observer to be able to see a drone at a height of 1300-1400ft, it would be impractical to judge separation from other aircraft with any degree of accuracy (drone operators were also required to keep 50m away from any third parties, including other aircraft).
“Flying drones above 1000ft was, in any case, contrary to existing CAA regulations; the issue being whether this had been done knowingly or unknowingly. The Board also acknowledged the difficulty in policing and enforcing the regulations; unfortunately, the short battery life of drones means that, with a typical flying time of approximately 15 minutes, it is difficult for the police to respond and catch drone operators flouting the regulations.”