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U.S. passenger jet nearly collided with drone in March: FAA

By Alwyn Scott

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An American Airlines Group Inc aircraft almost collided with a drone above Florida earlier this year, a near-accident that highlights the growing risk from rising use of unmanned aircraft, the U.S. air safety regulator said.

The pilot reported seeing a small, remote-control aircraft very close to his plane while preparing to land at Tallahassee Regional Airport, said Jim Williams, manager of the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Office.

"The airplane pilot said that the UAS was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Williams said at an industry conference on Thursday, referring to an unmanned aircraft system.

The aircraft, operated by an American subsidiary, did not appear to be damaged when it was inspected after the March 22 incident, Williams said.

But the incident served to highlight the risk of remote-control aircraft, he said.

"The risk for a small UAS to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real," Williams said. "The results could be catastrophic."

The FAA currently bans the commercial use of drones in the United States and is under growing pressure to set rules that would permit their broader use. Hobby and many law-enforcement uses are permitted.

Last year, the agency began establishing test sites where businesses can try out commercial uses. [ID:nL2N0K90QW] Two of the centers have started working ahead of schedule.

"The FAA is working aggressively to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace," the agency said in a statement.

The March incident was reported to the Tallahassee control tower by the pilot for Bluestreak Airlines, a US Airways commuter carrier. US Airways is part of American Airlines.

The plane, a Bombardier CRJ-200, was a traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Tallahassee.

It was at 2,300 feet and about five miles from the airport when it encountered the remote controlled jet. The FAA investigated but could not identify the pilot of the drone.

American said it is "aware of the published report alleging an incident with one of our express flights and we are investigating."

The airline said it would share any information with the FAA and would not comment further.

The incident was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In his address to the Small Unmanned Systems Business Expo in San Francisco, Williams also showed videos of several drone accidents, including one in which a drone crashed into a crowd during the running of the bulls in Richmond, Virginia, last fall.

The crash was caused by a battery failure and resulted in minor injuries, he said.

Williams also noted the "Miracle on the Hudson," in which birds hit the engine of a flight leaving New York, prompting an emergency landing on the river.

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

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Diane Craft)

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Gene Rayburn May 10 2014 at 11:19 AM

the USA never stoppes its dumb ass stuff only when someone gets killed then they say we will never let this happen again ? this country is in bad need of real leadership all the way around we sure dont have any now ???

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Chuck and Rose May 10 2014 at 10:37 AM

The costs for insurance, death benefits, reparations etc.,if that drone were to hit that plane would have been staggering and I'm sure that they still wouldn't know " Whodunnit"
It makes you love our Government all the more, doesn't it. Maybe we should be looking for "Terrorists" closer to home, you think,duh

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3 replies
motoco62 May 10 2014 at 10:36 AM

It is time to outlaw these remote-controller drones. It's nuts! The whole world has gone nuts!

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1 reply
Dan motoco62 May 10 2014 at 10:53 AM

Then didn't you just included yourself?

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saramrn May 10 2014 at 10:35 AM

The Government and public should not be allowed to put peoples lives in Jeopardy with these drones, They needed banned except with law enforcement only hen needed for a specific reason, not for private use at all.

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Mark May 10 2014 at 10:33 AM

Can you imagine having a jet crash because you wanted a DVD from amazon.com Geez!

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1 reply
prosymom Mark May 10 2014 at 11:01 AM

What are you talking about????

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Erbie's May 10 2014 at 10:33 AM

Wow, with all the stuff we have controlling air craft, radar and radios in the air plane and control towers and this is an alleged incident that close to a controlled air port? The word "ALLEGED" got me. The name of the sitting on the ground pilot of the drone couldn't be released, why, did the manufacturer of drones know eventually a drone is going to knock down an airplane with 300 people on it, BY ACCIDENT?, and they are already looking for a way to beat all those up coming law suits before they happen.

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richsglobal May 10 2014 at 10:31 AM

Just Goes To Show You How Cheap, Effective, Technical And Easily Claudestine These Things Are Available Out There. The "Drone" Was A JET, Not Some Whirly Bird Thing, And Could Be Used To Bring Down A Jetliner, Which Is Most Vulnerable On Take Off And Landing, Perfect Altitudes For Using As Such! Hang On Folks, Something WILL Eventually Happen To Us Again In The U.S. Are We Prepared?

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1 reply
prosymom richsglobal May 10 2014 at 11:06 AM

I think the word you are looking for is "clandestine?" And why are you capitalizing every primary letter? By the way, they do make radio controlled miniature fighter jets. There are flying clubs all over the country and they are not a danger to anyone when they are flown properly in approved locations. This one was apparently not. But anyone can buy and build these small remote-controlled aircraft.

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Chuck and Rose May 10 2014 at 10:12 AM

The FAA said it could not identify the pilot (I think they mean remote operator) of the drone. How dumb does this administration think we all are. They have their spokespersons
(like Jay Carney,et al) tell us things that even my high school grandchildren laugh at. This is 2014 not 1980, people are much more educated today and this administration refuses to understand that fact.Perhaps an early retirement would help and they can watch from their living rooms and make comments like this one.

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2 replies
Mark Chuck and Rose May 10 2014 at 10:31 AM

Speaking of Jay Carney has there ever been a bigger A-hole than him? I've often thought if he was my father I'd be embarrassed of him...money isn't that important to sell your soul lying to the American people!

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tluns810 Chuck and Rose May 10 2014 at 10:51 AM

This administration KNOWS how dumb their supporters are.

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moody2night May 10 2014 at 10:12 AM

We need to have those things follow senators and congressmen and mayors We the people are blinded by sports and what hollyweird is doing! Wake up America Too late

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1 reply
Mark moody2night May 10 2014 at 10:37 AM

Good recommendation but as long as there are cell phones, Wal-Mart and cinema-sized HDTV's...we're pretty much doomed.

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Susan May 10 2014 at 10:12 AM

What caught my attention in this report are two things: (1) The drone was jet propelled and (2) they can't identify the pilot.

This makes me wonder if it's a law enforcement drone. And we know what a mess law enforcement can make of everything. Hey, if they'd shoot an innocent person or lie at an accident site where they're the culprit, then they'd never admit to something like this.

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1 reply
musomesa Susan May 10 2014 at 12:20 PM

You can buy jets for them. People build these things.

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