Concerns have been raised about a close encounter between a pilot and a flying object over north London.

UK Airprox Board (UKAB) data shows that the pilot of a light aircraft flying above Enfield reported seeing an object that “could have been a balloon or an egg-shaped drone”.

The incident happened on December 17, 2022, at an altitude of 1,850 feet, with the pilot reporting that the object was flying “directly below them by 50-200ft”.

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The news comes one day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the Government will do “whatever it takes” to keep the UK safe from the threat of spy balloons.

On February 4, the US military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had flown across the country in the preceding days.

As well as the December incident over Enfield, a Press Association analysis of UKAB data suggested that there were at least six further near misses with objects that may have been balloons in UK airspace last year.

On September 25, the pilot of an Airbus A319 airliner was “distracted” by an object which was “either a balloon or a drone” passing along the side of the plane.

Four days later, a pilot on a Boeing 737 taking off from Stansted Airport, Essex, reported seeing “a glinting object” as near as 50 metres away.

The pilot “first thought it was a balloon”, but then believed it was a drone given it was at an altitude of 9,000ft.

On July 2 a pilot of a Boeing 757 plane saw “what was first thought to be balloons” at 7,500ft shortly after departing from Manchester Airport.

On July 16, the captain and first office in the cockpit of an Airbus A320 near Hatfield, Hertfordshire noticed an object which was “grey/silver in colour and about the size of a large drone or balloon”.

On June 3, the pilot of an Airbus A321 aircraft at 34,000ft above Norwich saw “a small white weather balloon”.

But Lord Darroch, former British ambassador to the US, told Times Radio today (February 14) that people should “sleep easy in their beds” despite the threat of Chinese spy balloons.

The former national security adviser said that the UK had “under-invested in defence” but that there was still capacity to deal with any surveillance balloons over Britain.

In October 2017, the Met Office said it “launches over 4,300 balloons every year from six locations across the UK”.