Last updated: 06:50 PM ET, Thu October 22 2015

Drone Sighting Causes Alarm For Flights Landing at NYC Airports

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | August 01, 2015

Drone Sighting Causes Alarm For Flights Landing at NYC Airports

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UPDATE: 2:47 pm ET 8/1/15 reported that JetBlue Flight 1843 radioed in a drone sighting while on approach to JFK at 2:24 p.m., just a few hours before the Delta flight's encounter. That airliner stated that the drone passed just below nose of the plane at an altitude between 800 and 900 feet. 

The carefully orchestrated dance of air traffic control above New York City-area airports was disrupted by the presence of a drone on Friday afternoon, Newsday reported.

A Federal Aviation Administration investigation is underway related to a drone’s close call with Delta Air Lines Flight 407, an MD88 with 149 passengers and five crew aboard. The aircraft was en route from Orlando and on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport at 4:55 p.m., around 1,400 feet in altitude, when the unmanned vehicle was sighted, the FAA said.

The radio exchange between the Delta pilot and the tower recorded by reveals how close the drone was to the plane.

"About a mile back there was a drone flying just under the southwest side of us," the pilot said to the control tower.

"What altitude would you say that was?" the tower asked.

"I would say about 100 feet below us, just off the right wing," the pilot responded.

"JetBlue, use caution," the control tower said soon after to another flight on approach. "The (aircraft) that's ahead of you reported a drone."

Newsday reported the tower later told flights on approach to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn to keep a lookout for the drone. That airport is located a few miles southwest of JFK.

Citing the warnings of aviation experts, Newsday said drones can be “extremely difficult” for pilots to evade, and can seriously damage a plane, especially if sucked into a jet engine.

The FAA has placed an altitude limit of 500 feet on small drones and banned them from flying close to airports and heavily populated areas.

This is just the latest airliner/drone close encounter reported by TravelPulse in 2015. One of the most heart-stopping occurred in late May when a Shuttle America flight about to land at LaGuardia Airport found a drone right in its flight path and was forced to ascend 200 feet to avoid a collision.

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