London’s Heathrow incident believed to be a plastic bag, not a drone

The Telegraph published an article today indicating that the incident at London’s Heathrow airport this past Sunday could have been caused by a plastic bag – not, as had been previously reported, by a drone. United Kingdom Transport minister Robert Goodwill stated that,“there was no actual damage to the plane” and “it may have even been a plastic bag.” For reference, the full article is available below.


THE TELEGRAPH: Drone believed to have hit British Airways flight ‘may have been a plastic bag’

By Steven Swinford, Deputy Political Editor


Posted April 21, 2016 3:43PM

The drone that reportedly hit a British Airways jet earlier this week may have actually been a plastic bag, a minister has said.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill admitted authorities had not yet confirmed whether what struck the Airbus A320 was a remote-controlled device. 

The collision on Sunday night is believed to have been at around 1,700 ft near Richmond Park in south west London, over four times higher than the legal height limit.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating, alongside the Metropolitan Police. 

But following his comments today, Mr Goodwill also dismissed calls for tighter rules on drone use to protect against terror threats insisting current rules governing drone use were strong enough.

He said it would be much easier for terrorists to attack airports on the ground with rucksacks or car bombs than orchestrate the attack from a drone aircraft.  

Mr Goodwill was also sceptical about calls to force all manufacturers to install GPS coordinates that would prevent drones flying in restricted areas – known as “geo-fencing”.

He warned that any moves to enforce geo-fencing rules would be vulnerable to being hacked  by “somebody who could get round that software”. 

Mr Goodwill said: “The reported drone strike on Sunday has not been confirmed it was actually a drone. It was the local police force that tweeted that they had a report of a drone striking an aircraft.


  1. “The collision on Sunday night is believed to have been at around 1,700 ft near Richmond Park in south west London, over four times higher than the legal height limit.”

    I didn’t know there was a height limit on plastic bags.

    1. And what about this:

      I read an article in the April 19, 2016 issue of the USA Today newspaper saying that airline pilots reported seeing a drone 300-feet below their aircraft when flying at 19,500-feet. Give me a break folks; how much longer can these lies and excuses continue on for these people to continue on their merry way to shut us down. THERE IS NO WAY A MODEL DRONE COULD OR WOULD EVEN GET TO AN ALTITUDE REMOTELY CLOSE TO 19,500-feet. Perhaps the pilots were smoking something or they saw a military drone. I heard somewhere in the news that they aren’t telling us, but the military is using drones over the U.S. .

    2. The bag was on it’s way to the great Pacific Gyro. It needed a lot of altitude to get from London to the Pacific Ocean.

  2. Damage to the radio controlled aircraft hobby is already done. After one day of the 24/7 news media reporting a “drone” strike, that is all the public will remember. The correction to report this as a near miss with a plastic bag will get very little media attention, if any.

  3. Unfortunately the horse is out of the barn. I don’t believe the news media will change it’s story and would prefer to attack drones as the culprit. It sells newspapers, increases viewer ratings and influences the public’s view of model aircraft.

  4. Why all the scare tactics about Drones ? These devices are no different than the traditional radio controled airplanes and RC helicopters Hobbyist fly all the time.I think that there is a deeper agenda to this fearmongering of the so-called Drone.the only danger they pose is the same danger with any recreation.. If the user is an idiot than everything he or she does is dangerous!.. not the hobby itself.not the drone.

    1. I don’t care what you fly, but I do care how you fly it. Those who do not fly in a responsible way, damages the privileges of us all. The traditional modeler has “paid the price of omission” by building, learning and practicing safe flying. This price is paid in the form of years, not hours, of learning and dedication to our hobby.

      This is not the case of the drone operator. They are making a bad name for us all. They are also causing ridiculous regulations and controls from our Federal Government. These people have no interest in aviation; they are just playing with high techo toys that are able to fly. No responsible modeler would think of flying an RC airplane near a man carrying aircraft. But, these drone guys just seem to think they are entitled to do this, just because they can. So, they have something to post on You Tube.

      1. I have six R/C helicopters, four quad-copters, six airplanes, and one camera drone, (manufacturers name for it) does that make ma an irresponsible drone operator? I fly at a full-scale aerodrome, over 400 feet, all the time, and have never been close to a full-scale aircraft.

  5. If established conclusively, I would sure like to see the press trumpet the story like it did for the alleged “drone” collision. Sadly, I do not expect this to ever be the case.

    1. Why spoil a good thing when you’ve got it going ay ? When you’ve got an uneducated populous, the cards are stacked in favor of however way the media wants to portray it; EVEN IF IT’S NOT THE TRUTH.

  6. YEA
    This is a case for captain VIDEO. YOU OLD TIMMERS remember him the cartoon character!
    He will solve the FAA’s delema over the toy DRONE hysteria.
    He will convince them to abolish model rocketry ( possible terrorist tool ). Oh how about abolishing the purchase of HELIUM gas
    And the release of balloons filled with helium,could bring down a 747 if invested in an engine.
    Oh, how about shooting down all large birds. Airlines have better chance of injesting a bird strike at altitude than a toy DRONE !

    What’s needed is for the FAA and congress and national air and space people to study the AMA rule book
    And take a TEST. but they must be older than 13. Maybe they will get it ! !

    ( By the way I am older than 13. )

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