Drone Over Brooklyn In JFK Airport Airspace: FBI And FAA Investigate Potential Attack [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on March 5, 2013 5:01 PM EST

Alitalia airliner
Alitalia pilot identified a drone just 200 feet from his aircraft while approaching JFK (Photo: Creative Commons)

The pilot of a commercial airliner over Brooklyn, New York, spotted an unmanned drone coming without 200 feet of his jet earlier on Monday, March 4, prompting an FBI as well as an FAA investigation on the incident.

Alitalia Flight 608 was approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport when the incident occurred.

"We saw a drone, a drone aircraft," reported the pilot to JFK air traffic control. Thankfully, the Alitalia airliner did not have to commit to any evasive maneuvers and managed to land on the airport safely.

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According to data compiled by the FBI and the FAA, the Rome-to-New York Alitalia flight was just 3 miles away from JFK airport's runway 31R at an altitude of 1,750 feet when the rotored unmanned aircraft came within 200 feet. The pilot described the drone as three feet wide with four propellers.

An unauthorized drone in restricted airspace, the FBI is particularly concerned of the security breach. An unmanned aircraft can collide with larger aircrafts and damage its engines, causing critical, or even catastrophic damage to the plane.

Recreational hobbyists are permitted to fly remote-controlled planes up to 400 feet. Government and public entities such as police department can apply for permission to operate drones within 3 miles of an airport.

"The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us," said Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone. "Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew."

JFK airport air traffic controllers alerted other approaching airliners of a drone over Brooklyn but other pilots could not spot any trace of the unmanned aircraft.

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