FAA Investigating a Possible “Drone” Sighting Near New York City Airport

"We saw a drone, a drone aircraft," an Alitalia pilot radioed.

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ETHAN MILLER / GETTY

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are probing an Alitalia pilot’s claim that a small, unmanned aircraft flew past John F. Kennedy airport Monday afternoon.

“We saw a drone, a drone aircraft,” the pilot said, according to audio posted on the website LiveATC.net, which aggregates air traffic communications.

(MORE: Dronestagram: Using Social Media to Put Drone Strike Sites on the Map — Literally)

The pilot reportedly spotted the unmanned aerial vehicle as he was preparing to land at 1:15 pm Monday, but was able to touch down normally and did not have to take any special measures to avoid it, CNN reports.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told the cable news network that the “drone” would have been cruising “approximately four to five miles west of the airport at an altitude of approximately 1,500 feet” — so somewhere over Brooklyn.

Air traffic controllers alerted other pilots to the sighting at the time; at least two pilots said they did not notice any unmanned aircraft.

An FBI spokesman says the pilot claims the aircraft was about one meter long, the Associated Press reportsA reporter for 1010 WINS news radio spoke to an airport shuttle bus driver who said he often sees kids flying model aircrafts in the area. “I see it many times,” the driver reportedly said. “Sometimes, I see them flying so high.”

If this aircraft was being used for recreational purposes, then it may have been flying at an altitude that was beyond the legal limit, according to CNN:

For recreational hobbyists, flying remote-controlled planes is only allowed by the FAA up to 400 feet in the air, and within sight of the operator. If they are going to fly within three miles of an airport, they have to let air traffic controllers know.

These sightings may become more common as more law enforcement, public agencies, and businesses start using the military spying vehicles in the civilian sphere. Lev Grossman explains in his TIME magazine cover story “Drone Home”:

Drones will carry pizzas across towns and drugs across borders. They’ll spot criminals on the run and naked celebrities in their homes. They’ll get cheaper to buy and easier to use. What will the country look like when anybody with $50 and an iPhone can run a surveillance drone?

UPDATE: The FBI is asking for the public’s help in tracking down the unmanned aircraft — described as black and about three feet wide with four propellers, according to a Mar. 5 statement from the agency.

MORE: What Happens When Drones Return to America?

MORE: Drone Monopoly: Hope You Enjoyed It While It Lasted

10 comments
baflyer26
baflyer26

Drones are already being used by the police to find criminals, but there is still a while to go (maybe 1-2 years) before they are widely approved for commercial applications. This guy makes a strong point about their commercial use: http://www.dronesden.com/

GoProDealHunter
GoProDealHunter

For recreational hobbyists, flying remote-controlled planes is only allowed by the FAA up to 400 feet in the air, and within sight of the operator. If they are going to fly within three miles of an airport, they have to let air traffic controllers know."


I agree with that exactly.  A drone is an unmanned aircraft, while a hobby rc helicopter is one where it's in field of view.  Then again, there are setups using first person view like videos here: http://bestquadcopterkits.com/10-best-quadcopter-videos/

SariPuta
SariPuta

There are probably going to be more of these same sights of drones in the years to come. Almost every month now there are more and more people getting these drones, and it won't be the surveillance UAV type either. 


The thing is there is not way to tell if those drones are amateur toy RC drones or those which are something that the military would own. However based on the fact that the device is just 3 feet long means that it probably is not carrying any type of explosive on it. However even if the drone has some type of HD camera on it would be scary.


http://www.bestrcquadcopter.com/

StephenFreeman
StephenFreeman

Have a drone sighting?

The Sleuth Journal has just launched a new site http://dronepatrol.thesleuthjournal.com/ where you can report sightings and read others’ encounters of their sightings. tell your friends to join in so we can build a data-set and map out where these sightings are witnessed!

quadcopterhq
quadcopterhq

Yea, the pictures in these articles are ridiculous - this one shows a MQ-9 Reaper, which is used for surveillance and tactical engagements overseas. Totally different ballpark of aircraft than a "large" quadcopter that probably weighs 10 pounds and is three feet wide.


http://www.quadcopterhq.com

melonheadx13
melonheadx13

watch the use of drones come back to bite us in the ass when "terrorists" can buy radio control aircraft that will probably be used as a bomb delivery system.

KevinFreels
KevinFreels

Before everyone jumps off the deep end looking for a conspiracy, I hope we take the time to find out if this wasn't just some back-yard enthusiast flying a home-built craft. They aren't that difficult with off-the-shelf components. I fly rockets well over 1500 ft on a regular basis. Of course when flying that high I'm supposed to seek an FAA waiver so they can issue information in the NOTAMs but not all people are respectful of this "government interference" and will often fly things at higher altitudes without seeking a waiver which puts people and aircraft at risk. 

CadronSvendsen
CadronSvendsen

Hopefully Obama and his minions weren't at the controls or it would be fully armed to take out any American citizens that Obama considers a threat -- i.e. conservatives and Republicans. 

melonheadx13
melonheadx13

@CadronSvendsen here we go--bash obama regardless of place or topic.  you only reveal your own ignorant bigot right wing delusions and paranoia.  or its repub humor--ha ha, humbug.