Just weeks after Transport Canada warned that users should be required to take out liability insurance on recreational drones, a Canadian commercial airline has had a near miss with a flying object – which may have been a drone.
A Porter airlines flight from Ottawa to Toronto was forced into a “sudden dive” to avoid a mid-air collision with an unidentified object over Lake Ontario on Monday morning, Toronto Star
Now, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) are investigating the incident, in which two flight attendants suffered minor injuries, but no passengers were hurt.
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Porter said in a statement on Monday that the pilots noticed an object in the distance while the aircraft was around 55 kilometres east of Toronto and at around 9,000 feet, which they initially thought was a balloon.
However, “as they approached the object, they realized it was very close to their flight path and decided to take appropriate evasive action,” the airline said.
Flight data from FlightRadar24 shows the plane then made a sharp zig-zag on its approach to Toronto, CBC
Investigators with the TSB say it is too soon to tell what the object was, but there are concerns that the object was an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone.
Peter Rowntree, senior regional investigator with the safety board, described the object as up to three metres wide, adding: “It definitely wasn’t a bird. It was a fairly large object.”
“We’ve got our work cut out trying to figure out what this unidentified flying object was. What did they encounter?” he said in an interview with the Star.
On how the plane’s pilots managed to avoid the object, he said: “They essentially just pushed the nose down to get underneath it.”
“It’s a big sky out there, so the fact they even saw it is something,” he said, adding that the aircraft was travelling at almost 450 kilometres per hour.
Kate Young, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport, told reporters that the incident was “serious” and that the government is aware.
“It’s imperative that we keep our skies safe and secure,” she said, adding: “Drones can be dangerous if they get too close to aircraft.”
Young said the government is working as quickly as it can to pass new legislation governing how drones can be used, especially as more Canadians begin flying them.
Just last month, it was revealed that Transport for Canada is building new regulatory framework, expected to be introduced in 2017, that will require anyone flying a drone that weighs over 250 grams to take out liability insurance, as well as registering their device and passing a knowledge test.
Transport Canada – drone users need insurance
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