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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The FBI is asking the public’s help in finding a small unmanned aircraft and its operator that was reportedly spotted by a commercial airline pilot near John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The pilot of an Alitalia flight said he saw something that he described as “a drone” about four to five miles southeast of the airport Monday afternoon. He said the aircraft was flying at an altitude of about 1,500 feet.
The pilot was heard telling air traffic controllers exactly what he saw on radio calls recorded by the website LiveATC.net.
Pilot: “We saw a drone, a drone aircraft.”
Air traffic controller: “What altitude did you see that aircraft?”
Pilot: “About 1,500.”
Air traffic controller: “Roger, thank you.”
The air traffic controller is then heard asking other flights in the area if they’ve seen anything unusual.
Air traffic controller: “We got a report about 15, 20 minutes ago of a drone aircraft — four propellers apparently – about a five to six-mile final…did you see anything out there?”
Pilots from other flights are heard responding that they hadn’t seen anything, but air traffic controllers continued to warn flights as a precaution.
Air traffic controller: “Report of a drone aircraft five-mile final, 1,500 feet. Use caution.”
The Alitalia flight was not forced to take evasive action and landed safely minutes later, officials said.
The FBI said the aircraft was described as being black in color, had four propellers and was no more than three feet wide.
“The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us,” Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone said in a statement. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”
The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating.
Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.
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