An investigation by the UK Airprox Board has emerged, detailing an incident between an aeroplane and an 'unknown object' in Newcastle's airspace in November last year. 

At 1 pm on November 16, the crew of an RAF Atlas aircraft, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, spotted an object quickly passing them down the right-hand side of their vehicle. They were flying over Currock Hill, in Tyne and Wear. 

The object, initially thought to be a drone by the crewmembers, then passed level across the windows of the flight deck, only a few feet away from the wing tip. 

The crew, who were out on a training exercise, described the object as circular, with a hollow centre (like a doughnut), and dark in colour. The object was only around two or three feet in diameter. 

Read more: Newcastle Airport drone near miss highlights importance of drone laws

The UK Airprox board determined that the high altitude at which the incident occurred, and the physical description of the object "were such that they were unable to determine the nature of the unknown object".

In their report, the board also concluded that "providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed". 

The Board warned that the incident carried a high risk of collision, as there was a distance of less than one foot between the two aircraft at points. 

The board explained the events: "The Atlas pilot reports they had just completed instrument approach training at Newcastle and were climbing out to route towards Humberside.

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"After the last approach, they had been cleared to climb ahead to FL90. During the climb, they received radar vectors from Newcastle ATC before being cleared on navigation to Humberside.

"During one of the radar vectors, in a left turn passing through about south at FL75, one of the crewmembers on the flight deck alerted the rest of the crew to a drone that was ahead and just to the right of the nose.

"Other crew members then saw the object as it passed quickly down the right-hand side. There was no time for the crew to react.

"The drone was assessed to have passed level with the flight deck windows and a few feet outside the wing tip.

"The drone was circular, had a hollow centre (doughnut-shaped), was dark in colour, and approximately two to three ft in diameter. The incident was reported to Newcastle ATC. It was noted that, had the aircraft not been in a turn at the time, there would have been a very high chance of collision with the drone."

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