A near-tragedy in the air was averted when a British Airways flight departing from Athens came within 1.5 meters of a drone flying illegally 9,600 feet above Kent, according to a Daily Mail report..

The flight from Athens to London Heathrow Airport was carrying up to 180 passengers and was flying at more than 250mph at the time.

The UK Airprox Board report classified the incident as Category A, meaning there was a serious risk of collision.

The incident happened shortly before 4:30 p.m. on January 3, as the Airbus A321 was flying about six miles south of Sevenoaks while waiting its turn to join the final flight path to land at Heathrow.

The drone was flying 24 times above the maximum legal height for the specific devices that are 400 feet.

The drone operator has not been found by authorities, but if caught he could face up to five years in prison.

According to reports from the pilots, the drone was found about 1.5 meters above their wing and only 9 meters from their cockpit.

Pilots have repeatedly warned in recent years about the danger of drones, which could potentially cause catastrophic suction damage to an aircraft engine or shatter a windshield.

The height of drones is normally limited by software to 400 feet, but the limit can be bypassed if the operator has upgraded code purchased online. Additional batteries can also be fitted to the devices to allow the drones to fly at high altitudes.