Investigators now admit that the incident earlier this month that caused a Canadian airliner to take evasive action, injuring two crew members, did not involve a drone at all.
When DRONELIFE reported on the incident it seemed evident to most drone operators that the presence of a drone was unlikely, given the reported altitude and location. The crew of the airline, in fact, assessed the object initially as a balloon. But Canadian investigators were quick to cry drone, and predictable headlines ensued. “Crew Members Injured as Plane Avoids near Collision with Suspected Drone,” reported the Guardian. “A Canadian airliner with 54 passengers on board had to swerve to avoid a suspected drone near Toronto early on Monday, slightly injuring two cabin crew, in the most serious case of its kind in Canada, officials said.”
Those same investigators are now backpedaling quickly, admitting that the object was probably not a drone. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has now closed it’s investigation of the incident, concluding that a drone was not involved.
“The description and size of the object does not match any known commercial or consumer available unmanned aerial vehicle,” the Canadian Press reports that TSB spokeswoman Karine Eyamie said. “The incident will remain identified as a near collision with an unidentified airborne object.”
The TSB acknowledged that the incident took place too far from shore and at too high for the object to be a drone, something that drone operators pointed out immediately upon hearing reports. While the TSB’s finding was printed in some local newspapers, few of the papers who published the initial drone headlines have covered the update. Those that did remained vague, such as the Toronto Star whose headline claimed that the incident “remained a mystery.” The TSB has said that it will not file a full, public report on the incident.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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