An Envoy Air regional jet that reportedly hit a drone while in flight on 22 August did not hit a drone after all.
Rather, it struck a balloon.
That is according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has now corrected an earlier statement about the in-flight collision, which involved an Embraer 175 and occurred shortly after the jet took off from Chicago O’Hare International airport.
“The FAA determined the object was a Mylar balloon,” the US regulator says on 31 August.
Neither Envoy nor parent American Airlines Group responded to a request for more information about the incident and resulting damage to the aircraft.
Following the collision, the FAA said the aircraft “struck a UAS” – an unmanned aircraft system. The incident occurred as the aircraft was climbing and turning left after taking off from O’Hare’s Runway 09C.
Immediately prior to the collision, the pilot of a departing JetBlue Airways E190 told air traffic controllers of a “drone” at about 1,000ft altitude.
After striking the balloon, the Envoy pilots levelled the aircraft at 6,000ft, then returned to O’Hare.
The aircraft has since returned to service, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.