Drone – Virgin Atlantic 787 Close Call

Mark Harkin, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Mark Harkin, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Back in September, a drone incident occurred with a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner nearly colliding with the drone.

This article will cover the details surrounding this weeks drone incident at London’s Heathrow airport with a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Drone Incident – Virgin Atlantic 787 at Heathrow


Photo Credit: Mark Harkin, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On departure from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner bound for New York come within 50 feet of an illegally flying drone just five minutes after departing LHR.

At approximately the height of 9,500 feet at 12:55 p.m. local on September 12, 2023 the incident occurred, where the aircraft was flying over Woodley near Reading.

The UK Airprox Board, who assesses near misses within UK airspace have categorised the incident as Category A, where there was a serious risk of collision.

The UK Airprox Board report consisted of the following: “Analysis of the radar by Safety Investigations indicated that there were no associated primary or secondary contacts associated with the drone report, visible on radar at the approximate time of the event.”

“In the Board’s opinion the reported altitude and/or description of the object were sufficient to indicate that it could have been a drone. The Board considered that the pilot’s overall account of the incident portrayed a situation where providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed.”

A spokesperson for the airline, Virgin Atlantic also said, “We’re aware of reports of a drone flying near our flight, the VS47, travelling from London Heathrow to New York on 12 September 2023.”

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our number one priority and we treat incidents such as this incredibly seriously. The pilots immediately reported the incident to Air Traffic Control in line with our procedures and our teams have subsequently informed the relevant safety authorities.”

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