An Emirates A380 plane has suffered major wing damage and been grounded after a suspected midair collision with a drone over Nice airport.
Drones can be a lot of fun. You need only ask Zlatan Ibrahimović about his new toy or take a look at this remarkable footage of a Great White shark to see that they offer a plethora of benefits. However, this week an Emirates plane landing in France has encountered one of the many risks associated with these new-age gadgets.
An Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft landing at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport in France sustained serious damage after reportedly colliding with a drone during its descent, as reported by Simple Flying. The incident occurred on August 18th when Emirates flight EK77 from Dubai International Airport touched down at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport.
Initially appearing to be a routine landing, subsequent inspections revealed damage to one of the A380’s right leading-edge wing slats. This damage is suspected to have been caused by a midair collision with a drone. An Emirates spokesperson confirmed:
“Flight EK 77 from Dubai to Nice on 18 August landed normally and passengers and crew safely disembarked. Upon landing, engineers discovered some damage to a slat in the right wing, and the aircraft will remain on the ground to undergo further assessments.”Emirates Spokesperson
The affected Airbus A380 remains grounded at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. The airline replaced the damaged wing part on August 20th, but the aircraft’s operations have been temporarily suspended as a precautionary safety measure. The return flight to Dubai was cancelled and a replacement aircraft was put into action the following day.
The incident highlights the ongoing concerns regarding drone activity near airports. The increasing accessibility of drones to the public has led to several near-miss incidents with commercial aircraft over the years. In December 2020, a British Airways Airbus A321 narrowly avoided a collision with an unauthorized drone during takeoff from London Heathrow Airport.
Notable incidents like the 2018 shutdown of London Gatwick Airport due to drone sightings have emphasized the potential disruption caused by drone activity. Dublin Airport, too, faced operational suspensions due to repeated drone sightings in February 2023, leading to the implementation of anti-drone technology as a preventive measure.
As the investigation continues, so does the debate about whether drones should be allowed anywhere near airports or — taking a more severe point of view — whether they should be so easily accessible to the public at all. While they may offer a lot of fun to footballing superstars, is it worth it for the safety risk they pose to unwitting flyers?