FAA Investigating Report Of Drone Flying Near Approach Path Of JetBlue Flight In The Process Of Landing

In another incident causing an anti-drone ripple in the airline industry, a JetBlue flight in the midst of landing in Fort Lauderdale this morning reported seeing an unmanned aircraft flying near its flight path.

Despite the unexpected addition to the air space, pilots didn’t have to take evasive action and the jetliner landed safely, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

“The crew of JetBlue 2007, an Airbus A320, reported seeing a unmanned aircraft system on approach to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at 9:37 a.m. today,” the FAA said in a statement, via the Sun Sentinel. “The FAA will investigate.”

According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the drone was around 1,000 feet above the airliner while it was 15 miles away from the airport. Authorities deployed a helicopter to check out the approach area but weren’t able to find the drone. It hadn’t violated any airspace restrictions, but the sheriff’s office notified the FBI anyway.

Such drone spottings haven’t been as common in South Florida as they’ve become in other areas, including the New York City metropolitan area, including Newark’s airport (which recently banned the sale of drones at its stores) as well as JFK and LaGuardia in New York.

Just this year, there have been around 700 incidents where pilots reported spotting drones near airports, which is almost triple the number in 2014, the FAA says.

Despite the growing number of close calls, there hasn’t yet been a collision between a drone and a commercial plane. But if that were to happen, it wouldn’t be good.

“The potential for catastrophic damage is certainly there,” Fred Roggero, a retired Air Force major general who serves as a consultant to companies seeking to fly drones commercially, told The Washington Post in November.

To combat that potential danger, Sen. Charles Schumer has proposed regulations that would rein in drones and keep them away from major airports.

“God forbid a drone was sucked into the engine of a passenger airline that was flying, it’d be a huge tragedy,” Schumer said. “And it’s a matter of time before that happens.”

JetBlue pilot: Drone in flight path at Fort Lauderdale airport [Sun Sentinel]