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Airliner at Europe's busiest airport wasn't hit by a drone after all, authorities say

The incident over London's Heathrow airport apparently unnecessarily heightened public concern over unmanned aircraft.

A British Airways Airbus A320 just before landing at Heathrow.

Kent German/CNET

A passenger plane descending to London probably wasn't hit by a drone, as initially thought by authorities.

UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said an investigation showed that the 17 April incident was unlikely to have involved a drone, the BBC reported Thursday.

British Airways flight 727 was on approach to London's Heathrow airport when, at an altitude of around 1,700 feet, it appeared to hit something that Metropolitan Police said may have been a drone. Robert Goodwill, a transport minister, previously speculated that the object may have been a plastic bag.

The Airbus A320 was undamaged and landed safely before continuing to its next scheduled destination. Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe when measured by passenger traffic. In 2014, planes over Heathrow and other airports around the world began reporting near misses with drones. The problem is only expected to grow worse as the popularity of drones continues to rise.