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In what may be the first known collision between a commercial aircraft and a drone in North America, a SkyJet charter flight was struck while landing in Quebec City on Thursday.
The Skyjet Aviation Beechcraft A100 King Air, designated SJ512, was inbound to Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) from western Quebec’s Rouyn-Noranda Airport (YUY) around 6pm on October 12 when the drone crashed into it. According to aviation-safety.net, the collision took place about 7 miles out from the YQB, and at an altitude of 2,400 feet. The plane landed safely and sustained only minor damage, Canadian transport minister Marc Garneau said in a statement. It was carrying six passengers and two crew.
“Transport Canada is monitoring the situation and is in contact with its transportation partners including Skyjet, the Jean Lesage International Airport and NAV CANADA,” Garneau said. “I would like to remind drone operators that endangering the safety of an aircraft is extremely dangerous and a serious offense.”
An official at Transport Canada in Ottawa said authorities haven’t yet identified the person operating the drone. He said he wasn’t authorized to release more information at the time. Skyjet Aviation, a charter airline based out of Quebec City, didn’t have immediate comment on the incident. Canadian laws prohibit the use of drones of any size near airports, helipads and seaplane bases without express permission, and the operator could be prosecuted for endangering the safety of an aircraft, which brings up to $25,000 in fines and potential prison time.
The dramatically increasing prevalence of largely unregulated civilian drones in the sky has drawn the concern of airlines, pilot and aviation officials. According to Transport Canada, there have been 1,596 reported drone incidents in the country so far this year, of which 131 were considered a danger to aviation. The Washington Post reported that the Skyjet incident is believed to be the first drone collision with a commercial aircraft in North America.
In the US, a a pair of Blackhawk helicopters with the 82nd Airborne Division were forced to make a landing after midair collisions with a drone near Staten Island, New York. One of the choppers suffered a cracked window and dented rotor blades.
The FAA did not immediately return calls for this story.
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