After the pilot of Alitalia Flight 608 spotted a drone within 200 feet at an altitude of about 1,500 feet on Monday at around 1:15 p.m., the FBI and the FAA issued a public alert on Tuesday asking for anyone to help in identifying the operator and the aircraft. The drone was sighted when Alitalia Flight 608 was approaching runway 31R at JFK, reported the Los Angeles Times on March 5, 2013.
“The pilot radioed, ‘We saw a drone, a drone aircraft!’ He said the aircraft had an altitude of about 1,500 feet and was about three miles from his plane. That would put it well past the 400-foot height restriction and far too close to the airport.”
So far, federal officials believe that the drone might have been a small aircraft that came way too close to Alitalia Flight 608 as it was approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The drone might be a model aircraft that was sent into the air from Long Island.
The drone is being described as being “black in color and no more than 3 feet wide with four propellers.”
An unmanned drone that gets too close to a large passenger airline does not only pose a serious risk because of a potential collision but also because the much smaller drone could get sucked into the larger airplane’s engine. JFK is one of the nation’s busiest airports for international flights and an unidentified and unmanned aircraft poses potential risks to hundreds of lives.
The Federal Aviation Administration allows recreational hobbyists to fly remote-controlled planes up to 400 feet and within sight of the operator. Any unmanned aerial systems that might come within three miles of an airport have to be reported to air traffic controllers.
The operator of Monday’s drone might have lost control over his small unmanned aircraft.
“Whatever the object, the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a public alert Tuesday seeking assistance in identifying the operator and the aircraft.”