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A320 crew took avoiding action in Paris drone encounter

French investigators have detailed an incident in which an Air France Airbus A320 took avoiding action after encountering an unmanned aerial vehicle near Paris.

The aircraft (F-GKXT) had been operating a service from Barcelona on 19 February and had been descending for an approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle’s runway 26L.

French investigation authority BEA states that the A320 had reached 5,500ft and was descending at 1,000ft/min at 220kt when the crew saw the drone.

BEA says the first officer, who was flying the jet, sighted the drone in the “11h” – using clock notation to reference the position ahead and just to the left of the aircraft.

He disengaged the autopilot in preparation for an avoidance manoeuvre while informing the captain of the drone’s presence. The captain saw the drone and estimated that it passed 5m below the A320’s left wing.

BEA says that the crew informed air traffic control of the encounter, re-engaged the autopilot, and continued the approach. The investigating authority classifies the incident as “serious”.

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