Pilots On ‘High Alert’ Following Third Drone Sighting In As Many Days At NYC’s JFK Airport

Experts: Device With Metal Components Could Be Every Bit As Devastating As Bird Strike

NEW YROK (CBSNewYork) — A pilot reported a drone sighting near John F. Kennedy International Airport Sunday night, making it the third incident in the past three days.

It’s a trend that has both pilots and passengers on high alert.

The pilot of a Shuttle America flight from Richmond, Virginia spotted the drone on the left side of his plane as it approached the runway around 6 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

On Friday afternoon, the FAA said Delta and JetBlue pilots each reported sighting a drone.

The FAA said the first incident happened just before 2:30 p.m. when Jet Blue Flight 18234, inbound from Haiti, reported seeing the drone.

Then, just before 5 p.m., Delta Flight 407 from Orlando had a close encounter as heard in a live ATC.net recording: “Yeah, about a mile back there was a drone flying just under the southwest side of the airport here. It’s about a hundred feet below us.”

The pilots in both incidents did not take any evasive actions and both planes landed safely.

The FAA and the Port Authority police are investigating the incidents.

Sen. Charles Schumer said the FAA must act immediately before a drone hits a plane and leads to tragedy.

“The FAA has to act and toughen up the rules before a tragedy occurs because if a drone were sucked into a jet engine of a plane filled with passengers untold tragedy could result and we do not, do not, do not want that to happen,” Schumer said.

He is calling for Geo-fencing technology be installed in unmanned aircraft. The software would be built into the devices and automatically prohibit drones from flying in dangerous areas.

Aviation experts say a larger drone with metal components could be every bit as devastating to an aircraft as the bird strikes that brought down US Airways 1549 in the Hudson River six years ago, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.

Sully Sullenberger, the captain who set that plane down saving the passengers, spoke to  “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning about how cheap, affordable technology in the wrong hands is becoming a real menace.

“It allows people to do stupid, reckless, dangerous things with abandon,” Sullenberger said. “I’m heartened that the aviation and the legal authorities have raised the penalties for doing these things, unfortunately the essential element that’s still missing is the certainty of prosecution because it’s been difficult to catch them in the act.”

People who use drones professionally, like Rob Feiner, of “Ultimate Aerials” blames amateurs and worries about the fallout.

“It really annoys all of us,” Feiner said. “It can be a danger because the drones we fly are fairly large.”

His drones have software that renders them inoperable inside designated “no fly” zones. Some are suggesting it be made universal to avoid mistakes by people who don’t know any better.

The professionals say they’re on the lookout for drone operators who willingly break the rules.

“If we find them we’ll turn them in and will make sure that the FAA deals with them,” Feiner said.

Young reports that most drones have GPS which carries a record of its flights — which could be useful in a criminal investigation.

The Department of Homeland Security is taking notice and has issued an alert to police agencies nationwide underscoring security vulnerabilities concerning drones.

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