FAA: Drone Almost Hit Airliner Over Florida

By  //  May 11, 2014

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Remote Controlled Drone Nearly Struck Commercial Flight

ABOVE VIDEO: A passenger jet nearly collides with an airborne drone in the skies over Florida.

(Image for Space Coast Daily)

WASHINGTON D.C. — According to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration, a commercial airliner was nearly struck by a drone in March of 2014.

According to the FAA, the US Airways flight was approximately five miles from Tallahassee Regional Airport, at an altitude of 2,300 feet, when it passed by a remote-controlled aircraft.

There have been at at least six other incidents since September 2011 in which pilots have reported close calls with what they believed were small unmanned aircraft, according to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System, which logs safety issues. The FAA doesn’t allow drone flights, other than by hobbyists, unless it has granted a special permit.

James Williams

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The drone in March came so close to the airliner that the pilot “was sure he had collided with it,” said James Williams, chief of the FAA’s unmanned aircraft office, said in a speech May 8 at the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition in San Francisco. “Thankfully inspection to the airliner after landing found no damage, but this may not always be the case.” (Source: Bloomberg News)

The pilot said it appeared the drone was a high-end model built to look like a fighter jet and powered with a small turbine engine, according to the FAA. Such model planes are capable of reaching higher altitudes than drone copters and may cost thousands of dollars.