Six serious near-misses between drones and aircraft in Dutch air space were recorded in 2017, broadcaster RTL Nieuws reported on Monday.
The aviation safety research board termed each of the incidents as serious, which means there was a good chance of a collision, the broadcaster said.
The near-misses last year included a large airliner for the first time. A Transavia Boeing 737 en route from Catania on Sicily to Schiphol airport was flying at an altitude of three kilometres south of Rotterdam when one of its pilots noticed a drone outside the right-hand cockpit window.
‘We saw a drone pass us at the same altitude,’ the pilot told the Schiphol control tower. RTL Nieuws has obtained a copy of the recording. The drone then passed under the aircraft’s right wing and disappeared.
In 2016 airline pilots warned that stronger regulations regarding drones were needed to keep Dutch air space safe for aviation.
A collision between a drone and a plane is potentially worse than an encounter with birds, one expert told RTL.
Cockpit windows are not strong enough to deal with hitting a hard drone, while if a drone gets caught in a motor, motor blades can break,’ Hans Heerkens of Twente University said.
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