FBI asks for help identifying drone spotted near JFK

Undated handout image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft.  Credit: Reuters
Undated handout image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft.
Credit: Reuters

The FBI is asking for the public’s help in solving the mystery of a drone  spotted near Kennedy Airport yesterday.

FBI Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone said today that the FBI is investigating an unmanned aircraft a pilot saw while approaching JFK.

According to the FBI, around 1:15 p.m. yesterday afternoon, the Alitalia Flight pilot saw a small drone while he was approaching the airport.

The Alitalia flight was about three miles away from the runway, flying at about 1,750 feet, according to the FBI.

The FBI reports that the unmanned aircraft was within just 200 feet of the landing plane.

Agents want to know who operated the aircraft, which they described as black and about three feet wide with four propellers.

“The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us,” Giacalone said. “Our paramountconcern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the report.

The pilot did not need to take evasive action, according to the FAA, and landed safely.

An FAA spokesman told Metro that law enforcement and public agencies need a permit from the FAA to fly an unmanned aircraft like a drone.

But private citizens can operate one as long as they stay under 400 feet and three miles away from an airport. If they go closer, they need to warn the airport control tower, he said.

The FAA is crafting updated rules for unmanned aircraft to be finished this year, the spokesman said.

Anyone with information about the drone sighting can call 212-384-1000.

What are uses for drones?

The FAA has authorized use of unmanned aircrafts for missions like firefighting, disaster relief and search and rescue. Other uses may include military training, the FAA spokesman said, or state universities conducting research.


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