Plane has encounter with drone on approach to Cardiff Airport

Eastern BAe Jetstream 41 (Image: Arpingstone)

Drone captured near Cardiff Airport
Drone captured near Cardiff Airport

An Eastern Airways flight from Anglesey to Cardiff Airport had an encounter with a what was described as a large drone on Tuesday evening whilst approaching the airport to land.

The aircraft did not have to alter course or take evasive action but the proximity was enough to make the pilot report the incident to air traffic control stating that the drone was possibly up to a metre wide.

The aircraft, a BAe Jetstream 41 landed safely at 18:04.

A local aviation enthusiast captured an image of a drone near the airport (pictured) which is believed to be a DJI Phantom 3. The image was taken from Knap Point which is on the approach to Runway 30 at Cardiff Airport.

The encounter comes just days after London Gatwick airport had to close twice due to a drone being flown in the proximity causing several flights to be diverted.

Whilst no specific laws exist regarding recreational drones flying near airports, putting an aircraft in danger is an offence which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

A spokesperson for Eastern Airways said “The crew operating last night’s flight from Anglesey reported to Air Traffic Control that they had observed a drone on approach to Cardiff Airport.

“The flight was not affected, no action was required by the pilots as it was an observation only that was reported, it was safe to continue and the aircraft landed early at 6.04pm” adding “The company is filing a report with the Civil Aviation Authority.”

Close up of the Drone. Do you recognise it? Call 101
Close up of a Drone flying near Cardiff Airport. Did you see anything? Call 101
About Nick Harding 1934 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.


  1. How come all the Images of the drone are from the ground. This could be any drone in the world. It appears again this is just another attempt to put drones in a bad light with out any Real evidence. I agree if its true then flyer should be punished but let’s see some evidence before stories are released.

    • The pictures are from the ground as they were taken by an aviation enthusiast taking photos on the approach there is no reason to doubt their credibility at all. The incident was relayed to Air Traffic Control by the pilot. It was also witnessed by several people both visually and aurally so there is plenty of “real evidence”.

      Whilst we agree that the majority of drone users operate them responsibly, these types of incidents are on the increase with unlicensed toys being used without consideration for the danger they could put aircraft in. The incident at Gatwick at the weekend was a prime example.

      Whilst this incident wasn’t enough to cause a diversion, it was clearly close enough for the pilot to be concerned enough to report it to ATC.

    • Pilots are a little busy to take photos of drones. Cabin crew are very busy. Dronee operators put 6themselves in a bad light endangering hundreds of lives in the air and on the ground. It as as bad as the idiots shining lasers at pilots.

  2. And I do agree with what you are saying about the dangers and people need to act responsible. But like the Gatwick incident there was no evidence again of a drone flyer just what pilots are saying they Thought they saw.. If some idiot is caught red handed throw the book at them and make them an example to all other flyers. But until then the media is just looking for stories.
    No drone has ever brought a plane down in the history of hobbiest drone flyers. My guess is a plane would just smash it to pieces before any harm is done. I hope we never have to find out though.

    • and the photograph taken by someone on the approach of a drone. If a small bird can destroy an aircraft engine, what do you think a chunk of plastic & metal will do?

  3. I whole heartedly agree with staying clear of airports and aircraft. What I don’t agree with is shocking standards of reporting in stories like these. The Knap is Class D restricted airspace, which means you can legally fly a uav in it, following the drone code and using a bit of common sense. Also if it’s a phantom 3, with that camera, it’s a pro/advanced. It’s geo fenced. If the user was following all the guidelines, there is no issue to answer. However if the pilot was low enough to see it at 400ft, then he/she needs retraining or a breathalyser. It would be great if the user would identify themselves and provide flight logs showing exact distance and altitude (as these are automatically saved by DJI). If shown to be breaking the law, the user should be prosecuted and jailed. On the other hand, if flying legally, they and the public deserve an apology from the news outlet for the scare tactics being used in that report. We need positive stories for our work/hobby or we’ll end up with laws like they currently have in Canada.

    • Your comment became invalid at this point “if the pilot was low enough to see it at 400ft, then he/she needs retraining or a breathalyser” as it’s hard to land an aeroplane at above 400ft at Cardiff Airport.

      • My point is perfectly valid. Where the photo was taken and UAV spotted, if at that point the plane in question was at 400ft or less (as the UAV probably was) getting ready to land, why was the pilot flying that low at that point? Not one other plane entering on that flight path does or ever has. Once again you really need to get your facts in place. I still don’t agree with how the UAV was being flown as he/she should have landed upon seeing the plane coming in. But using misleading headlines to get a few likes and shares and to scare the already poorly informed general public as to what actually happened, is poor reporting.

    • At 400 feet the aircraft is within a nautical mile from the runway threshold depending on the strength of the wind. The distance is well within the Air Traffic Zone of the airfield within which nothing flies without permission of ATC. It is not Class D.

  4. Further to my previous post. It really annoys me that all stories about UAVs in the media make us all look like hooligans with no regard for safety or the law. Yes there a minority of idiots who break said rules, but they are tiny in number.
    There was no mention in any media outlets of the inspire used by the fire service to check the grenfall block of flats to aid rescue.
    No mention when UAVs are used in major traffic incidents to aid rescue services, no mention of flir equipped units used in search and rescue….

    • No-one is saying all drone pilots are evil. This is merely the fact that the pilot considered it close enough to report. Surely it’s basic common sense that you don’t fly a drone near an airport, or am I missing something?

      • Yes, you’re missing quite a lot. It’s not illegal to fly where this UAV was. If the user was within the specified guidelines of use then there is no case to answer. On the other hand, once the operator was aware there was a plane coming in, they should have landed the uav, that’s common sense.
        What do you class as near an airport?
        Where exactly was this UAV spotted?
        If you don’t have the answers, I’ll happily give you the CAA report.

        • Within the air traffic zone permission is required. Without such permission it is illegal.

  5. Robert and Dave! Are you guys on another planet? A drone was spotted near the airport. The pilot reported the drone as it was close enough to cause concern. A drone collision with an aircraft could be very serious. Whoever was flying that drone is an idiot. Why would you fly a drone anywhere near an airport like said idiot. Not all drone operators are idiots. this article is not an attack on all drone flyers.

    How can this be perceived in a completely different way by you two.

    • Well said Chris. The twosome are also wrong. The drone operator committed both a criminal offence (reckless endangerment of life) as well as being in breach of the Civil Aviation Act for infringing an Air Traffic Zone without permission.

  6. If you want to fly drones DONT DO IT NEAR AN AIRPORT.
    What is the problem, there is a hell of a lot of air out there to play in without aircraft anywhere near.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.