Plane narrowly misses drone near Paris CDG Airport
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An Air France Airbus A320 jet narrowly avoided colliding with a drone while descending for an approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport last month, the French aviation investigation agency BEA said.
The aircraft had been operating a service from Barcelona on February 19 and was flying at 5,500 feet when the co-pilot saw the drone.
He immediately disengaged the autopilot and carried out an avoidance manoeuvre while informing the captain of the drone's presence, BEA said on its website.
The drone passed just five metres below the aircraft's left wing, the agency said, classifying the incident as "serious".
The area where the unmanned aircraft, whose type has not been disclosed, was flying is legally off-limits for drones because of safety concerns.
The French civil aviation authority (DGAC) told FRANCE 24 that flying a drone in the vicinity of the airport was "a crime, pure and simple".
"The air space near the airport is strictly controlled," said DGAC spokesman Eric Héraut. "Drones are not allowed to fly above urban areas, near airports or near sensitive sites such as power stations."
"This was an extremely dangerous situation," he added. "The drone could have damaged the cockpit window, or it could have been sucked into one of the plane's jet engines. But if that had happened, an emergency landing procedure would have kicked in immediately."
FRANCE 24 contacted the BEA for more details on the plane's encounter with the drone, but had received no response at the time this article was published. An investigation is still ongoing.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)