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A commercial airplane collided with a drone in Canada, a first in North America

Phantom drone is flown during a property inspection following Hurricane Harvey in Houston on Sept. 6. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

The Canadian transport minister announced Sunday that a drone recently collided with a commercial aircraft, marking a first in North America.

The collision took place Thursday, when a Skyjet aircraft was on its final descent into the Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City.

Six passengers and two crew members were aboard the twin-propeller airplane, a Beech 100 King Air. It crashed into the drone about three miles out from the airport at about 1,500 feet in the air, Canadian transport minister Marc Garneau told the CBC.

No one was injured, and the airplane landed safely after sustaining only minor damage.

“I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely,” Garneau said in a statement on Sunday.

Garneau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., “it could have been much more serious. . . . It’s important to note that aircraft are particularly vulnerable when on final approach coming in — the pilot is concentrating on landing properly.”

It is illegal in Canada to fly a drone within 3.4 miles of an airport without special permission, according to the CBC.

Greg McConnell, the national chairman of the Canadian Federal Pilots’ Association, told CTV News that the incident “was just a matter of time.”

“There are a lot of drones flying, and there are a lot of people flying drones thinking they’re toys,” McConnell added.

The increasing number of drones filling the skies has complicated air safety. In the United States, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning that “operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal” after stating that pilot reports of drone sightings have increased dramatically since 2014.

Thus far, verified collisions remain scarce. Though some pilots have claimed they collided with a drone, the FAA has never verified such a crash, the FAA said in February. In September, a drone collided with a Black Hawk helicopter near Staten Island, damaging its rotor blade and window. No one was injured.

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