TORONTO/OTTAWA – Officials say a Porter Airlines flight approaching Toronto’s island airport took evasive action to avoid a suspected drone, injuring two flight attendants.
Julie Leroux of Canada’s Transportation Safety Board said the near collision occurred at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning at an altitude of about 9,000 feet (2,700 meters) and 30 miles (48 km) out from the airport near Pickering, Ontario.
Leroux says the object involved in the near-miss was likely an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Porter spokesman Brad Cicero says two flight attendants sustained minor injuries. They were taken to a hospital and released.
Cicero says the pilots’ initial assessment was that it looked like a balloon. After debriefing, they believe it was possibly a drone.
TSB investigators will interview the crew.
The Bombardier Q400 turboprop was carrying 54 passengers from Ottawa. The airport is located just off Toronto’s downtown core.
The near-miss was the most serious case of its kind in Canada, officials said.
The Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 twin-prop was descending into the city’s Billy Bishop waterfront airport when the pilots saw the unmanned aerial vehicle.
“Two crew members performed an evasive maneuver to avoid the unidentified object,” said Genevieve Corbin, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). Corbin said the object was most likely a drone.
The plane landed at about 7:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT). The TSB has now launched an investigation, the first time it has done so for such an incident, said Corbin.
In June, Canada’s federal transport ministry launched a campaign intended to deter people from flying drones near airports or aircraft.
There have been a rash of near-misses between planes and unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States in recent years.
In April, police in Britain said a British Airways passenger aircraft collided with what was most likely a drone as it prepared to land at London’s Heathrow Airport. The aircraft landed safely and no injuries were reported in the incident.