British plane didn't collide with drone at Heathrow after all: U.K. government

A British Airways jet reported to have hit an object as it came in to land at Heathrow Airport earlier this month did not strike a drone as first thought, the British government said Thursday.

The pilot of an Airbus A320 flying from Geneva reported a collision as the plane was approaching the airport on April 17. The plane was not damaged and was cleared to fly again after an inspection.

Police said the jet was believed to have hit a drone. They searched a nearby park for debris and encouraged anyone who found drone parts to hand them in.

The incident sparked calls for tighter controls on unmanned aerial vehicles. Police Chief Superintendent Martin Hendry said the incident "highlights the very real dangers of reckless, negligent and sometimes malicious use of drones."

But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told lawmakers that it is now thought "that was not a drone incident."

Last week, junior Transport Minister Robert Goodwill speculated that the plane might have struck a plastic bag.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said Thursday that it had ended its investigation into the incident.

"We made initial inquiries but there was insufficient information on what object was involved for us to take it further," it said in a statement.

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