A British plane may have collided with a drone at Heathrow

Passengers & crew were minutes from landing when their aircraft was struck by a suspected drone.

FILE. The British Airways Airbus A320 was carrying more than 130 people at the time of the incident. Picture: freeimages.com

LONDON - British police have launched an investigation after a passenger aircraft coming in to land at London's Heathrow Airport was hit by a suspected drone.

The British Airways Airbus A320 was carrying more than 130 people at the time of the incident. It landed safely after the collision, but a union representing the UK's pilots has now called for tougher action against drone operators who flout the law.

British Airways has stressed the A320 landed safely and that maintenance checks showed no damage had been suffered by the aircraft.

However, the collision, which is believed to be the first-ever incident of its kind in the UK, has prompted an investigation by police at Heathrow. Flying drones near an airport is banned under British law, with anyone breaking the rules facing up to five years in jail.

Meanwhile, the UK's pilots union has insisted it was only a matter of time before an aircraft was hit by a drone. It's now calling for authorities to be more stringent in enforcing the law.

"At approximately 12:50 hours, on Sunday, 17 April, a pilot on an inbound flight into Heathrow Airport from Geneva reported to police that he believed a drone had struck the aircraft," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

"It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft."

British Airways said in a statement that the aircraft was "fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight".

Additional reporting by Reuters.