Two flights report drone sightings within 100 feet of them
FAA gets about two reports per day from pilots saying they spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle
Two airplanes flying near one of the nation’s busiest airports each came within 100 feet of a drone on Friday, according to audio from each flight’s radio calls.
The first, JetBlue Flight 1834, reported spotting a drone at 2:24 p.m. while approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. In the audio recording, the cockpit says that the drone passed just below the planes nose when the jet was flying at an altitude of about 800 to 900 feet.
Then at about 5 p.m., Delta Flight 407 – which had 154 people on board – was preparing to land when the cockpit reported seeing a drone below its right wing.
Neither plane needed to take evasive action, according to the FAA.
Both landed safely and each incident is being investigated by the FAA though it’s unclear whether the two are related.
The Delta flight had its drone encounter near Floyd Bennett Field, located in Gateway National Recreation Area. A Gateway National Recreation Service park ranger told CNN that the field does not permit drone flying but many aviation enthusiasts can be found flying “radio-controlled propeller crafts and unmanned small jets.”
However, there is a space within Floyd Bennett field where people with a permit and members of an aviation club may fly their own small craft, the ranger said.
Unmanned aircraft systems are neither supposed to fly within five miles of an airport without notifying the airport operator and control tower nor are they supposed to go above 400 feet.
But the FAA says it gets about two reports per day from pilots saying they spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle.
“It’s very, very concerning because having drones at JFK or any major airport was illegal even before the latest drone laws came into effect,” CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo says. “What is happening now is there are some stiff prosecutions being handed out – including jail time – for lawbreakers. As they people get the word, they won’t do such idiotic things anymore.”
Drones that fly too close to commercial flights pose a serious threat to the larger aircraft, Phil Derner of NYCaviation.com told CNN affiliate WPIX.
They can be sucked into the engine or even crash into the cockpit window.
“Going into an engine can destroy an engine,” Derner said. “Going into the cockpit window can injure a pilot or even kill a pilot.”
But CNN analysts Bob Baer and Jonathan Gilliam worry about how drones could be used by those seeking to attack planes.
“This is crazy,” Baer said. “You can take these drones and, with a 3D printer, make them out of explosives. They’re very dangerous and they’re advancing pretty quickly.”
Baer says that airports should consider jamming drones close to airports or just simply “knock them out of the air.”
Gilliam thinks that drones shouldn’t be able to fly as high or as far as they do. “Four hundred feet away from the controller, these drones should shut off,” he said.
CNN’s Kevin Bohn, Katie Tutrone and Anne Woolsey contributed to this report