View Full Version : A320 UFO Incursion

1st May 2013, 10:21
A passenger aircraft had a narrow miss with an unidentified object over Glasgow, a report has revealed.

The Airbus A320 was making its final approach to Glasgow Airport on 2 December when an object passed about 300ft underneath it.

The pilot of the aircraft said the risk of collision with the object, which did not show up on radar, had been "high".

A report by the UK Airprox Board said investigators had been unable to establish what the object had been.

The A320 was flying with its landing lights on, in clear conditions and at an altitude of about 4,000ft above the Baillieston area of Glasgow, when the pilot and non-flying pilot of the aircraft saw an object "loom ahead" at a range of about 100m.

The object passed directly beneath before either of the crew members had time to take avoiding action or had "really registered it", although they both agreed that it appeared to have been blue and yellow or silver in colour with a small frontal area, but that it was "bigger than a balloon".

The pilot asked the controller at Glasgow Airport if he was "talking to anything in the area" as he had "got quite close" to a blue and yellow aircraft, travelling in the opposite direction, which had passed just below him.

The controller stated that he was not talking to anyone else in that area and that nothing was seen on radar.

Search action was taken with no result and the A320 pilot stated his intention to file a report to Airprox, which investigates near misses.

Air traffic control said they had no trace of any other objects in the area at the time of the incident, although the radar at Prestwick did spot an "unidentified track history" 1.3 nautical miles east of the A320's position 28 seconds earlier.

Once the aircraft had landed, the pilot told the Glasgow Aerodrome Controller: "We seemed to only miss it by a couple of hundred feet, it went directly beneath us. Wherever we were when we called it in it was within about 10 seconds. Couldn't tell what direction it was going but it went right underneath us."

When asked if he thought it may have been a "glider or something like that" the pilot replied: "Well maybe a microlight. It just looked too big for a balloon."

The Airprox report concluded: "Investigation of the available surveillance sources was unable to trace any activity matching that described by the A320 pilot. Additionally there was no other information to indicate the presence or otherwise of activity in the area."

The report said the Airprox board had been of the opinion that the object was unlikely to have been a fixed wing aircraft, helicopter or hot air balloon, given that it had not shown up on radar.

It was also thought that a meteorological balloon would be radar significant and unlikely to be released in the area.

A glider could not be discounted, the report said, but it was unlikely that one would be operating in the area because of the constrained airspace and the lack of thermal activity because of the low temperature.

Similarly, the board believed that a that a hang-glider or para-motor would be radar significant and that conditions precluded them, as they did para-gliders or parascenders.

The report stated: "Members were unable to reach a conclusion as to a likely candidate for the conflicting aircraft and it was therefore felt that the board had insufficient information to determine a Cause or Risk".

1st May 2013, 10:27
blue and yellow

Aha ! Must have been Swedish.......

Worrals in the wilds
1st May 2013, 10:42

Inflatable sharks that were a hit at Christmas are heading for the exits around the country and flying off into the wild blue yonder.
Reports of escaping sharks have come in from homes as far apart as Auckland and Riverton in Southland.
The issue first drew attention when the pilot of a passenger jet on his descent to Christchurch International Airport on Boxing Day radioed ground control with a sighting of a shark flying at several thousand feet.
The fish out of water was identified as a remote-controlled, helium-filled shark that has topped must-have present lists this Christmas.
Claims of possible ownership of the sighted high flying fish have come from bereft households in Hamilton, Feilding, and two from Christchurch.
MetService said working out where an escaped shark might have travelled to would be a difficult task. Factors would include the amount of helium in the fish, affecting its height, along with wind speed and direction.
The 1.44-metre-long Air Swimmer toy has a radio receiver attached to its underside and can be operated by remote control over a range of 15m.

High-Flying Swimming Shark Makes Pilot Look Twice | Stuff.co.nz (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6211335/High-flying-shark-makes-pilot-look-twice)
Maybe one of these?

1st May 2013, 10:44
My direct experience has been that there are quite a few light aircraft/microlights that don't show on primary radar, and many don't have transponders, so won't show on secondary either.

Given the description from the crew I'd have thought that the odds on favourite for this has to be a small light aircraft of some description, one that was busting the Glasgow zone, wasn't talking to anyone and didn't have a transponder. Wouldn't be the first, by a long way, as Glasgow has suffered incursions like this in the past.

Lon More
1st May 2013, 10:48
Jeely piece. Simples
Skyscraper wean - YouTube

1st May 2013, 12:10
Most likely a novelty helium balloon, some them are quite large these days and expensive as I found to my cost lately. I've had a couple of encounters with them in the air, one around 4000 feet. But as it was in daylight the terror is momentary. :eek: At night they might look quite different. The silvery ones look a lot like the classic UFO shape.

Lon More
1st May 2013, 12:16
Most likely a novelty helium balloon
was there a Weegie burd* tied to the other end. It'd need to be pretty big to get some of them off the ground


* AKA, a bauchle

Utrinque Apparatus
1st May 2013, 12:24
VP 959

Already discounted, no microlights or light aircraft in the vicinity, and Baillieston would be a very unusual coordinate for such an incursion in any case without the aircraft being tracked for quite some time beforehand

Milo Minderbinder
1st May 2013, 12:30
"Most likely a novelty helium balloon"

Highly amused a few years ago while birdwatching around the north side of Blackpool Airport when a large inflatable purple dinosaur drifted over the runway at around 1000 feet from north to south.
Luckily no aircraft around except a grey funny-looking Islander, which was in no danger

1st May 2013, 13:06
Lon-you're not right :)

1st May 2013, 13:08
There's no indication of a guess at the size of the "UFO"? With an A320 at 4000' on the descent, and travelling at what? - 350kts? - an object suddenly appearing 100M away must just be a millisecond flash of colour, surely?

What's the chances of an RC aircraft being up there?

How high can you dare fly? - RC Groups (http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1132497)


1st May 2013, 14:41
VP 959

Already discounted, no microlights or light aircraft in the vicinity, and Baillieston would be a very unusual coordinate for such an incursion in any case without the aircraft being tracked for quite some time beforehand

Except that I know, beyond any doubt (as we did some trials to determine the RCS of these things years ago) that some light aircraft and microlights give virtually no primary radar return. At the time there was much debate about ways to increase the RCS of these things, the main problem being that they have so little reflective structure, and they fly so relatively slowly, that they get filtered out by most primary radars. This means that no one would have any indication (other than a visual sighting) of one being in the area.

Metallised balloons give a pretty good return, spherical ones were used (maybe still are) as RCS radar calibration spheres.

Lon More
1st May 2013, 14:46
Lon-you're not right

Sorry, probably Murricans. :cool:

1st May 2013, 14:58
blue and yellow or silver in colour


tony draper
1st May 2013, 15:05
It's a bastard, you come 213 light years no probs and have to spend your time dodging feckin primitive slow moving antique atmosphere craft that still use chemicals to drag themselves into the sky then blunder about in same.

1st May 2013, 15:57
These UFO encounters seem to be getting more frequent. As to the probing:eek: of humans, play safe like me. Carry a tube of KY jelly in your pocket. Better safe than sore.:cool:

1st May 2013, 17:53
The issue first drew attention when the pilot of a passenger jet on his descent to Christchurch International Airport on Boxing Day radioed ground control with a sighting of a shark flying at several thousand feet.

That is one call I would have loved to make!

1st May 2013, 20:48
What about the pilots who saw the Pink Floyd Pink Pig floating
at 30,000 thousand feet :rolleyes:

Lon More
1st May 2013, 20:51
.... or the crews who saw the American hanging under his balloons (Didn't a Brazilian priest try the same thing?)

1st May 2013, 20:57
It just looked too big for a balloon.
How big is a balloon?

You can fill them with water and throw them, stick them on ribbin and give them to children, launch weather sensors, lift half a dozen tourists, carry someone to the stratosphere ... :confused:

These days many people launch there own "space missions" with toys being filmed by cheap cameras. "Chinese lanterns" are quite large, and are sent up all of the time.

I have personally had near misses with two home made balloons in UK airspace. I would bet balloon.

2nd May 2013, 00:21
You haven't encountered anything at 4000ft until
you've smashed into a Chinese bloody kite while
at 210kts on approach to Guilin - in cloud! :uhoh:

2nd May 2013, 06:07
I saw a bottle of whiskey floating on a cloud once...

Loose rivets
2nd May 2013, 06:37
I left the coast near Ostend in misty conditions. Medium weight turboprop. Completed a teardrop turn only to come face to face with BATMAN - well, his BAT sign, anyway.

It was huge, funnily enough, black on yellow, and being towed by a light aircraft. It was close enough to take up about half the windshield view.

2nd May 2013, 09:03
I doubt any RC flyer is going to fly the type of model shown in the photo anywhere near full size activity.

However, there are a small minority of RC flyers (never part of a proper RC club) who fly FPV and blatantly disregard laws and any form of common sense. They then have the audacity to post their flights on youtube. These people are not respected or admired by the general RC community, and not many people think their achievements are the slightest bit clever, rather completely stupid.
(Remembering that with less than 200 of technology, you can have a model take off, fly a preprogrammed course and land autonomously, with GPS accuracy (usually within 20') and an altitude resolution of 6", so their activities are not a technological achievement)

Loose rivets
2nd May 2013, 19:51
Mmm . . . the above gives me a very uneasy feeling. I imagine the reasons will be obvious.

3rd May 2013, 04:11
Mmm . . . the above gives me a very uneasy feeling. I imagine the reasons will be obvious.

Yes, but if you consider all the practical implications and limitations, any uneasiness should be far less than employing other alternatives, which of course has already been done.

There's no danger of giving anyone any new ideas, they've already been aired on TV, and the futility and uselessness of the concept has been shown. (in relation to my first post)

And of course the restrictions in place at the London Olympics made the concept very public, and also showed that the authorities were well aware of it, although it is likely the restrictions were more to avoid confusion and mistakes than to eliminate a threat.

However, FPV could still offer a possible explanation to the original post, hopefully it will be dealt with sometime, as the practice does seem to be outside of CAP 393.

The average model used probably weighs about 8-10lbs, and travels at 30-40 knots, and would have more "solid" bits than a bird.