TORONTO – Two crew members of a Porter Airlines flight en route from Ottawa to Toronto were slightly injured Monday when a plane was forced to take evasive action to avoid a mid-flight collision with what is suspected to have been a drone, the airline and safety officials said.
The Dash 8 aircraft with 54 passengers on board was flying at just under 3,000 metres over Lake Ontario at 7:30 a.m., about 55 kilometres from Toronto’s island airport, when the incident occurred.
“The pilots noticed an object in the distance (and) as they approached the object, they realized it was very close to their flight path,” Porter Airlines said in a statement.
“The pilots’ initial assessment was that it looked like a balloon. After debriefing, there is potential that the object was a drone.”
The pilots took appropriate evasive action and, contrary to some initial reports, there was no contact between the aircraft and the object.
The two flight attendants were taken to hospital and released. It’s not clear what their injuries were. No passengers were hurt.
Julie Leroux, a spokeswoman with the board, confirmed that two investigators were looking into the incident and interviewing the crew.
At this point, flying drones under 35 kilograms requires no special permit. However, users must stay away from flying within nine kilometres of an airport or helicopter landing pad and no higher than 90 metres.
However, the growing threat of collisions with drones prompted Transport Canada in September to warn about the hazards to those flying them.
“Before you take to the skies, make sure you understand the rules and follow them,” the agency says on its website. “Not doing so could put lives at risk and cost you up to $25,000 in fines and/or jail time.”
Porter operates flights out of Toronto’s island airport to and from several Ontario cities, as well as to seven destinations in the U.S.