Mystery ‘Drone’ That Struck British Airways Jet Might Have Been A Plastic Bag

British authorities continue to investigate an incident in which the pilot of an Airbus A320 for British Airways said something struck the front of the aircraft as it landed at London's Heathrow Airport last Sunday. The pilot said he thought it was a drone, though now there's speculation that it might have actually been "a plastic bag or something."

Transport minister Robert Goodwill downplayed the notion that drones might pose a safety threat to aircraft or that stricter regulations are needed. Goodwill feels that the current rules in place are strong enough, adding that it would be a lot easier for terrorists to attack airports on the ground with things such as car bombs rather than coordinate a drone attack. What a comforting thought.

Plastic Bag

"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," Goodwill said, according to The Telegraph. "And indeed the early reports of a dent in the front of the plane were not confirmed - there was no actual damage to the plane and there's indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something."

"I've not actually landed a 747 at Heathrow but I've landed the simulator and the pilot has a lot of other things to concentrate on so we're not quite sure what they saw so I think we should maybe not overreact too much," Goodwill added.

We have to admit, it's refreshing to see a government official err on the side of sensibility rather than submit to a knee-jerk call for more rules and regulations. At the same time, it's frightening to think how often drones actually do venture uncomfortably close to airplanes. From August 21, 2015 to January 31, 2016, the FAA reports 519 incidents of drone sightings or close encounters in national airspace, including 11 situations in which the pilot had to take evasive action.

As for what struck the aforementioned Airbus A320, we might never know. Our money's on a gremlin.