Drone Hits Passenger Plane in Canada

A drone struck a passenger plane in the skies over Jean Lesage International Airport in Québec City, the first time there has been a collision between a drone and a plane in Canada, the country’s Minister of Transport says. The drone owner was flying illegally in a no-fly zone.

Minister Marc Garneau published a statement yesterday about the incident that occurred late last week.

“On October 12, 2017, a Skyjet flight was struck by a drone while inbound to Jean Lesage International Airport in Québec City,” Garneau says. “This is the first time a drone has hit a commercial aircraft in Canada and I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely.”

The airplane was carrying 8 passengers, and it’s estimated that the drone was flying at about 1,500 feet (~450m) above the airport airspace when the impact occurred.

Authorities are now working together with the airline and the airport to monitor the situation and cooperate with Canada’s Transportation Safety Board for any investigation.

“Although the vast majority of drone operators fly responsibly, it was our concern for incidents like this that prompted me to take action and issue interim safety measures restricting where recreational drones could be flown,” Garneau continues. “I would like to remind drone operators that endangering the safety of an aircraft is extremely dangerous and a serious offense. Anyone who violates the regulations could be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and/or prison.”

All airports in Canada are designated as “No Drone Zones” and drones must stay at least 5.5km (~3.4 miles) away — any drone use requires permission from Transport Canada.

1,596 drone incidents have been reported to the Canadian government in 2017. 131 were found to be aviation safety concerns.

“This should not have happened. That drone should not have been there,” Garneau tells CBC News. He notes that the plane was lucky to have landed safely — if the drone had collided with the cockpit or the engine, the event “could have been much more serious” or even “catastrophic.”

Image credits: Header illustration based on images by Sébastien Beaujard, Wenna980, photoroyalty / Freepik