Drone almost collided with American Airlines flight in Florida, officials hear

Drone came so close pilot was 'sure' the US jetliner had been hit

A drone almost collided into an American Airlines flight in Florida, coming so close the pilot believed he had collided into it, the Federal Aviation Administration has heard.

Jim Williams, of the FAA’s unmanned aircraft systems office, told officials the near-collision happened earlier this year as the pilot approached the Tallahassee runway en route from Charlotte, North Carolina.

The incident was reported to air traffic control on 22 March but was only disclosed publicly for the first time on Thursday.

The pilot said the American Airlines Flight 4650, a 50-seat jet, was at an altitude of about 2,300 feet (700 meters) when what appeared to be a remote-controlled aircraft came dangerously close.

It was described as "a camouflaged F-4 fixed-wing aircraft that was quite small."

The law currently requires that private individuals flying drones notify the airport operator and air traffic control facility when flying within five miles of an airport.

"The airline pilot said that the UAS was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Mr Williams said. "Thankfully, inspection of the airliner after landing found no damage."

He highlighted the incident on the Hudson River where pilots of a US Airways Flight were forced to land the Airbus A320 on the river when a flock of birds was sucked into the engines. Because no-on died in the incident, it became known as the 'miracle on the Hudson'.

"The risk for a small UAS (unmanned aircraft system) to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real," Mr Williams told the conference.

“Imagine a metal and plastic object, especially that big lithium battery, going into a high-speed turbine engine.

“The results could be catastrophic.”

The FAA has been unable to identify the drone’s operator. In a statement, the FAA said "it is working aggressively to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace."

A US Defence Department spokesman said most military drones are not painted with camouflage, but the department had no further details of the incident.

American Airlines spokesman Paul Flaningan said the airline was aware of the alleged incident and that it was investigating the matter.

News
people And here is why...
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
News
i100
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?