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Pilots on Richmond to New York flight report drone flying near plane

Posted at 11:08 AM, Aug 03, 2015

NEW YORK — Another drone has been spotted flying near a commercial aircraft over New York, the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday. The crew of a Shuttle America flight reported an unmanned aircraft off the aircraft’s left side Sunday evening as it was landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the FAA said. That report follows two similar ones on Friday.

Shuttle America Flight 5911 left Richmond at 5:20 p.m. Sunday and landed at JFK in New York at 6:06 p.m., according to Flightaware.com.

In one, the flight crew of a JetBlue aircraft reported a drone passed just below the plane’s nose as they were preparing to land at JFK Friday afternoon. Later, a Delta flight reported a drone below its left wing as it flew near an area known to be used by unmanned aircraft enthusiasts.

All three flights landed without incident, but drones that fly too close to commercial flights pose a serious threat to the larger aircraft, Phil Derner of NYCaviation.com told CNN affiliate WPIX.

A drone “going into an engine can destroy an engine,” Derner said “Going into the cockpit window can injure a pilot or even kill a pilot.”

Flying drones isn’t allowed within five miles of an airport without first notifying the airport operator and control tower. The unmanned vehicles are also supposed to stay below 400 feet.

But the FAA says it gets a couple of reports every day from pilots saying they spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle.

“It’s very, very concerning because having drones at JFK or any major airport was illegal even before the latest drone laws came into effect,” CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo said. “What is happening now is there are some stiff prosecutions being handed out — including jail time — for lawbreakers. As the people get the word, they won’t do such idiotic things anymore.”

Rene Marsh reported from Washington. Michael Pearson wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Aaron Cooper, Kevin Bohn, Katie Tutrone and Anne Woolsey also contributed to this report.

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