Porter flight avoids mid-air collision with ‘drone’

Flight from Ottawa to Toronto dives quickly—injuring two—to avoid collision with what pilots believe to have been a drone

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

A Porter Airlines plane takes off from Toronto's Island Airport on Friday, November 13, 2015. (Chris Young/CP)

Two crew members of a Porter Airlines flight en route from Ottawa to Toronto were slightly hurt Monday when a plane narrowly avoided a mid-flight collision with what may have been a drone, the airline said.

The Dash 8 aircraft with 54 passengers was flying at just under 3,000 metres over Lake Ontario at 7:30 a.m. E.T. and was about 55 kilometres from Toronto’s island airport when the incident occurred.

“The pilots noticed an object in the distance (and) as they approached the object, they realized it was very close to their flight path,” Porter Airlines said in a statement.

“The pilots’ initial assessment was that it looked like a balloon. After debriefing, there is potential that the object was drone.”

The pilots took evasive action and, contrary to some initial reports, there was no contact between the aircraft and object.

The two flight attendants, who were in the process of securing the cabin for landing and weren’t in their seats, were pitched about the cabin, but continued with their duties.

No passengers were hurt and the plane landed normally. The flight attendants were taken to hospital as a precaution and released.

A senior investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada told The Canadian Press that it was impossible to say at this point what the unidentified object was.

“It happened so quick, they have no idea what it was. It’s just something that they knew they were going to hit unless they took evasive action,” Peter Rowntree said. “It happened that quickly.”


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