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FBI probes sighting of 'black drone' at JFK airport

March 06, 2013 18:10 IST

A pilot of a commercial jetliner has reported that he spotted a "black" drone aircraft hovering near his plane on landing at JFK airport here and his claim is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday they are investigating the pilot's claim that he spotted a small unmanned aircraft on Monday near JohnFKennedyInternationalAirport.

"We saw a drone, a drone aircraft," said the pilot, according to radio calls captured by an air traffic website.

The FBI said the aircraft was described as being black in colour, 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 was quoted by the CBS News as saying in a statement.

"Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew," he said. The FAA is also investigating.

The Alitalia pilot spotted the unmanned craft, described as "a black drone", hovering just 200 feet from his jet about three miles east of the airport as he made his approach from Brooklyn.

"He was very clear as to what he saw," a source was quoted by the New York Post as saying.

The pilot told investigators the object was flying at about 1,800 feet and looked like "a black drone about a meter square, with helicopter rotors on the corners".

"It didn't require the pilot of the jet to take any evasive action, and it didn't interfere with the aircraft," the source said.

The pilot landed safely.

While sources said there is a good chance the "drone" might have been operated by a model-aircraft enthusiast, it was still the first time veteran observers at JFK could remember one getting so close to a plane.

"In all the years I've been with the airport, I can't remember a similar incident," one investigator said.

"Whether this is a hobbyist or not, it raises serious concerns," the investigator added.

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