Australia’s aviation watchdog and the Australian Federal Police are hunting the operator of a drone that flew over Perth Airport yesterday.
The drone was seen at 7.38am by a pilot in a plane taking off and then by an airport worker near the runways to the Qantas terminal.
In the departing plane, the pilot was alerted by the reflection of the sun off the white drone. He reported it to air traffic control after take-off.
“It was to our left as we started our roll and moved over the Qantas terminal as we rotated (took off),” the pilot said.
Air traffic control alerted all pilots. Perth Airport reported the incident to the Federal Police and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The AFP could not find the drone or anyone acting suspiciously.
The aviation safety authority said it was investigating the incident, which carries a penalty of up to $10,000 and possibly two years in jail if a plane was put in danger.
It is illegal to fly a drone within 5.5km of an airport.
Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said this sort of activity was taken seriously and posed a significant danger to aviation.
He urged anyone with information relating to the incident to contact CASA or police.
CASA is working on a registration scheme for drones weighing more than 250g.
In 2009, an operator who flew a radio-controlled model plane at Perth Airport that came within seconds of it and a 160-seat Virgin Blue 737 colliding avoided a jail term but was fined $3000.
A video camera was attached to the remote-controlled model plane, which was flown from a park under the flight path of a runway.
The video was posted on YouTube, showing the plane twisting and turning and then the Virgin Blue 737 flashes past before the model plane turns to follow the jet and crashes.