Drone hit Canadian airliner: minister

A Canadian passenger plane landed safely after it was hit by a drone in the first case of its kind in the country, a cabinet minister said Sunday.

With increasing numbers of unmanned aerial devices in the skies, collisions are still rare, but authorities around the world are looking at ways to keep jetliners out of harm's way.

The Canadian incident happened last Thursday when a drone collided with a domestic Skyjet plane approaching Jean-Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

"This is the first time a drone has hit a commercial aircraft in Canada and I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely," said the minister, a former astronaut.

The aircraft, carrying six passengers and two crew, was struck on its right wing at an altitude of about 500 yards (450 meters) and roughly two miles (three kilometers) from the airport, according to Le Journal de Quebec newspaper.

Garneau reminded drone operators that anyone convicted of endangering the safety of an aircraft could face fines up to 25,000 Canadian dollars ($20,051 US), prison, or both.

Canadian regulations forbid recreational drone flights above 98 yards and less than 3.4 miles from an airport.

But Garneau said this year there have been 131 drone incidents "of aviation safety concern."

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which sets global standards for the aviation industry, counted 856 cases worldwide between January 2013 and August 2015 of a drone getting too close to a plane for comfort.

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