A drone came within 20ft of striking a passenger aircraft

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ironman2012

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

A drone came within 20ft of striking a passenger aircraft shortly before it was due to land as Heathrow Airport, a report into the 'near-miss' has found.
The model helicopter passed dangerously close to the Airbus A320, 700ft above the ground on July 22 this year, according the report by the UK Airprox Board, the regulator.

(This comes from The Telegraph Drone was 'within 20ft' of crashing into passenger plane landing at Heathrow on 12 Dec 2014.)

I learned from the article that the drone passed close to the aircraft, and it didn't cause a collision. But when I look at the sentence alone, I thought the drone was 20 feet away from the aircraft, so it crashed into the aircraft. How can I understand the sentence?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    If you will search for "within," you will find many, many existing discussions about within], incoluding:

    within 10 days of the date above

    You will see that in none of them does "within" imply reaching the target.

    I thought the drone was 20 feet away from the aircraft, so it crashed into the aircraft.
    Something 20 feet away from another object cannot touch it, much less crash into it.

    Automobiles traveling in opposite directions on two-lane roads routinely pass "within 20 feet" of one another, but that doesn't mean we have untold millions of automobile crashes every day.
     

    ¡Alla Voy!

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    Hi there,

    From what the article says, the drone didn't collide into the plane but came dangerously close to doing so. Only within 20ft within striking it.

    The potential collision occurred 700ft above the ground but thankfully didn't come to pass. Thus the article describes it as a "near miss".

    Key words: came within, dangerously close, near miss.

    Hope I have helped :)
     

    ironman2012

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    If you will search for "within," you will find many, many existing discussions about within], incoluding:

    within 10 days of the date above

    You will see that in none of them does "within" imply reaching the target.

    Something 20 feet away from another object cannot touch it, much less crash into it.

    Automobiles traveling in opposite directions on two-lane roads routinely pass "within 20 feet" of one another, but that doesn't mean we have untold millions of automobile crashes every day.
    I can understand "a drone came within 20 feet of a passenger aircraft" or "Automobiles pass within 20 feet of one another". But I don't understand the "of striking a aircraft" part. Since "Something 20 feet away from another object cannot touch it, much less crash into it", why "striking a aircraft" is added after "of"?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I can understand "a drone came within 20 feet of a passenger aircraft" or "Automobiles pass within 20 feet of one another". But I don't understand the "of striking a aircraft" part. Since "Something 20 feet away from another object cannot touch it, much less crash into it", why "striking a aircraft" is added after "of"?
    Because you need an object of the preposition "of." In this case, it's a gerund phrase ("striking another aircraft).

    You cannot just say "came within 20 feet of" and nothing else.

    Is it the gerund phrase that's confusing you?
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    All of these sentences could be used to describe the situation:

    The drone almost hit the airplane.

    The drone came close to hitting the airplane.

    The drone came within 20 feet of hitting the airplane.


    I understand that the last may not make sense to you, but it is a common way to express a near-miss in English.

    [Cross-posted with sdgraham]
     

    ironman2012

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Because you need an object of the preposition "of." In this case, it's a gerund phrase ("striking another aircraft).

    You cannot just say "came within 20 feet of" and nothing else.

    Is it the gerund phrase that's confusing you?
    Yes, can you tell me what the relation is between "came within 20ft" and "striking a passenger aircraft"?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Illustrative:

    He came within twenty feet of climbing the mountain. (He almost reached the top).
    He came within twenty feet of the mountain. (He came close to the mountain but didn't touch it.)

    By using a verb (strike, climb), we emphasize the action. In the drone's case it almost struck the plane, rather than simply being next to it.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    The drone came within 20 feet of a collision with the passenger aircraft. (The collision is what would have happened if the drone had come 20 feet closer.)

    Does that help?

    [Cross-posted with JulianStuart]
     
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