A US Airways flight almost collided with a drone back in March near the airport in Tallahassee, Florida, according to a Federal Aviation Administration official.
Jim Williams, head of the FAA’s unmanned aircraft office, said at a conference that the pilot of a regional US Airways flight saw a camouflage-painted drone fly so close to the airliner that “he was sure he had collided with it.
“The pilot reported what appeared to be a small, remotely piloted aircraft at approximately 2,300 feet in the air,” Williams said Thursday at the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition in San Francisco.
Thankfully, after careful inspection of the plane after landing maintenance crew found no damage.
“The risk for a small drone to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real,” Williams said. “The results could be catastrophic.” To put it into perspective, think back to 2009 when a US Airways flight that had departed from New York City’s LaGuardia got hit by a flying geese and caused Captain Chesley Sullenberger to land in the Hudson River after the engine caught on fire. A plane hit by a drone would cause far more damage than a fried bird.
Unfortunately the FAA wasn’t able to identify either the drone or its pilot involved in the March incident. The incident involved PSA Airlines Flight 4650, a CRJ-200 aircraft, which is operated as a US Airways regional flight from Charlotte, N.C.
Accordingly, the FAA said it is working aggressively to develop rules for drones. Anyone flying a drone within five miles of an airport is supposed to notify the airport and the air-traffic control facility, according to the FAA.
What are your thoughts on drones being used domestically (or even abroad)?