A passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing after a mysterious mid-air collision with a ‘foreign object’ at 26,000ft severely dented its nose cone.
The plane was climbing over China when a large bang was heard from the front of aircraft.
The pilot said the aircraft was struggling to perform and he immediately called air traffic controllers, according to reports.
He was then allowed him to return to the airport.
Experts said investigations into the suspected crash have raised suspicions that the aircraft was hit by a ‘foreign object’.
However, they do not believe it was caused by a bird strike as no blood or feathers were visible on the dented nose cone.
The damage was only spotted when the plane, which was travelling from Chengdu to Guangzhou, safely landed.
The pictures have prompted online speculation that it was caused by a UFO or a drone strike.
Other theories posted on the Aviation Herald include pressure from rapidly heated and expanded air.
Former government UFO investigator Nick Pope told The Sun that an examination of the nose cone should reveal what hit it.
He said traces of whatever collided with the aircraft should be visible.
However, he questioned whether the ‘secretive’ Chinese would reveal the cause.
Mr Pope told The Sun: ‘Cases like this show that whatever people believe about UFOs, there are serious air safety issues here.
‘MoD and CAA files contain dozens of reports of near misses between UFOs and commercial aircraft.
‘It’s only a matter of time before there’s a catastrophe.’