Looks like someone in the New York City area needs to keep their robot plane on a shorter leash.
Federal authorities are investigating today after the pilot of an Alitalia flight spotted what appeared to be a small, unmanned drone hovering close by as the passenger flight made its approach in to New York's JFK airport on Monday afternoon. The drone reportedly came within 200 feet of the jet.
Don't get all panicky over the prospect of a possible al Qaeda sleeper cell in Queens though. The eyewitness said the drone was black in color, no more than 3 feet wide, and had four propellers -- a description much more similar to a Parrot drone than a Predator.
If the craft was piloted by somebody no more threatening than an R/C hobbyist, it's clear the individual needs to bone up on FAA regulations, which prohibit small drones from flying more than 400 feet off the ground or coming anywhere near air traffic. The drone was spotted about three miles from the runway at JFK and at an elevation of 1,750 feet, according to a statement from the FBI.
FBI Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone said the bureau is looking for information on the drone and its operator.
Given the fact that the FBI itself is one of the government agencies authorized to fly drones, perhaps we can look forward to more low-speed drone-on-drone hover chase action on the evening news. I smell a new reality show concept.