Mexican airline Aeromexico is investigating whether a drone slammed into one of its Boeing 737 jetliners as the aircraft approached its destination Wednesday in Tijuana, Mexico, on the U.S. border.
Images on local media showed considerable damage to the nose of the 737-800, which was operating as Flight 773 from Guadalajara. In a cabin recording, crew members can be heard saying they heard a "pretty loud bang" and asking the control tower to check if the nose was damaged. The collision happened shortly before landing.
"The exact cause is still being investigated," Grupo Aeromexico said in a statement. "The aircraft landed normally and the passengers' safety was never compromised."
The potential drone strike stoked fears that the rising use of uncrewed aircraft will endanger planes filled with passengers. While most nations prohibit drones from flying in pathways reserved for airliners, the millions of small consumer devices that have been purchased around the world can't be tracked on radar, making it difficult for authorities to enforce the rules. In addition, many users don't know the rules or don't follow them.
The Federal Aviation Administration has logged a dramatic increase in the number of safety reports involving drones in recent years and air-carrier industry groups earlier this year called on the government to tighten regulations after a video was released purporting to show a drone flying just feet away from an airliner near Las Vegas. There have been about 6,000 drone sightings by pilots -- some of them by airline crews -- through June, according to FAA data. Read more