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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

CNN —  

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.

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Both landed safely and each incident is being investigated by the FAA though it’s unclear whether the two are related.

Dangerously close

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.”

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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 not supposed to fly within five miles of an airport without notifying the control tower. Nor are they allowed to go above 400 feet.

But the FAA says it gets about two reports per day from pilots saying they spotted a remotely operated aerial vehicle.

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“What is happening now is there are some stiff prosecutions being handed out – including jail time – for lawbreakers,” said Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst.

’It’s crazy’

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.

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Then there’s the risk of terrorism.

CNN analyst Bob Baer worries about use of drones to attack planes.

“You can take these drones and, with a 3D printer, make them out of explosives,” he said. “They’re very dangerous and they’re advancing pretty quickly.”

Airports should consider jamming nearby drones or simply “knock them out of the air,” Baer said.

CNN’s Kevin Bohn, Katie Tutrone and Anne Woolsey contributed to this report