Virgin Atlantic flight subjected to 'closest ever' near-miss between passenger plane and drone at Heathrow

A remote-controlled drone has come within just 3m of colliding with a Virgin Atlantic flight that had around 260 people onboard while landing at London's Heathrow Airport.

UK aviation authorities have now released a report into the incident, which happened on June, 25.

UK Airprox Board, which investigates near-miss incidents in the skies over the nation, confirmed the distance between the drone and the aircraft's engine was just 3m.

It's the closest a drone has ever come to hitting a commercial flight in the UK, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

The aircraft involved was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which was in its final stages of descent after an eight-and-a-half hour flight from Delhi.

The drone was on the busy flight path to Heathrow Airport
The drone was on the busy flight path to Heathrow Airport Photo credit: Google Maps/Newshub.

The aircraft was at a height of 3200 feet (975m) as it flew over Clapham Common - the legal height for a drone in the region is 122m, meaning it was flying at eight times its legal height.

Drone use around airports or near flight paths is becoming a problem in New Zealand, too. Earlier this year, a drone was spotted near the approach path of Auckland Airport, forcing the closure of the airspace for 30 minutes.

On that occasion, a flight from Tokyo had to divert to Ohakea Air Force base in Palmerston North.