A PILOT who was forced to crash-land his plane in Winsford claims it may have been a drone that had collided with his aircraft.

The 59-year-old pilot was flying a light aircraft from Calais in France to Lymm on March 14 last year.

As he was approaching his destination, a section of the plane’s canopy broke away and he was forced into making an emergency landing in a field behind Glebe Green Drive in Winsford.

Winsford Guardian:

A large piece of the plane's canopy broke away in the air over Winsford

An investigation into the incident was carried out by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and a report from the AAIB has now revealed further details to the crash landing.

The report states: “At approximately 12.19pm, the pilot contacted Manchester Radar and reported that he was at Stoke-on-Trent and descending to enter the low-level route between the Manchester and Liverpool CTRs.

“As the aircraft approached the town of Winsford at an altitude of about 1,000ft, a large section of the canopy detached, following which the pilot decided to make a forced landing in a nearby grass field.

“The nose gear collapsed during the landing, and the right wing, propeller and engine support were damaged. The pilot was uninjured.”

Winsford Guardian:

Emergency services were on the scene shortly after the plane came down in the Winsford field last year

What caused the canopy to break away remains a mystery, but the report goes on to state that the pilot believes a drone in the air over Winsford may have crashed into his plane.

It states: “The pilot was uncertain as to why the section of canopy broke away, but he stated that it may have been due to a collision with a drone.

“No evidence of a drone or the missing section of canopy has been located and no injuries

to persons or damage to property have been reported on the ground.”

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The report noted that the pilot had 185 hours of flying experience and 10 hours in the 90 days leading to the incident.

The aircraft, a single-engine Dyn’Aero MCR-01 made in 2001, suffered damage to the nose landing gear and wheel, right wing, propeller and lower engine support, as well as the canopy.

A large spike in drones causing potentially catastrophic issues for aircrafts has been highlighted this year.

Over Christmas a drone sighting at Gatwick led to 120,000 passengers unable to take off or land at the airport.

Winsford Guardian:

Drones are not permitted to fly above 400ft

Passengers were stuck on planes for several hours and were forced to sleep on floors inside the airport as flights were cancelled between December 19 and 21.

While on January 8 this year flights halted for almost 90 minutes at Heathrow Airport after a drone was spotted at around 5.05pm.

In January, it was revealed that there were 120 near misses between drones and aircrafts last year, compared to just six in 2014.

New legislation to extend the ‘no-fly’ zone around airports came into force last month, with major penalties now being dished out to those who fly a drone within 5km of an airport.

Drone users can only fly within the restriction zones and above the restricted height of 400ft if they have the correct permission from air traffic control or the airport.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "The UK has been consistently at the forefront of legislation to tackle drone misuse.

"All drone users should be aware that flying a drone within 5km of an airport or over 400ft is a serious criminal act, one which could put lives at risk and risks penalties ranging from significant fines to a life sentence.

"I urge people to report any suspicious drone activity to local police or Crimestoppers UK on 0800 555 111."