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Drone flies dangerously close to incoming United flight at Newark

Photo: Meisterflieger/Wikipedia

As more and more people purchase and operate drones, they tend to forget about the responsibility that goes into flying one.

Even though there have been very few run-ins with drones and airplanes (yes, that Southwest drone crash video was fake), it’s definitely something of concern.

A United flight arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey was just two miles from touch down when they were warned about the presence of a drone to their left, just a quarter mile away (402 meters).

“See about a quarter mile to the left,” the air traffic control worker told the United crew.  “That white [inaudible] sitting on top?”

“Yes, we do see it,” the pilot responded.

The crew on board United flight 135 kept track of the intruding drone but still managed to avoid any danger, landing safely a few minutes later around 11:55 AM.

The flight was being operated by a Boeing 767-400ER, and had originated from Zurich, Switzerland.

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) released the following statement

Preliminary information shows that United Flight 135, a Boeing 767, reported a near mid-air collision with a white unmanned aircraft approximately two miles southwest of Newark. The FAA notified the New Jersey State Police.

By law, drones are not supposed to be operated above 400 feet and should not be within a 5-mile radius of any airport (without prior permission from the authorities).

Details about the situation are still sketchy, but should the drone have been closer to the airplane, it could have been very problematic for the crew and passengers on board if it was sucked into the engine, given that today’s drones are much bigger than before.

Unfortunately, many drone operators still do not know the risks of operating devices like this.

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