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Pilot spotted drone over Brooklyn

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   March 5, 2013 at 12:49 PM   |   Comments

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March 5 (UPI) -- A commercial jet pilot reportedly spotted an unmanned aircraft over Brooklyn while coming in for a landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday afternoon.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating an account from the pilot on Alitalia Flight 608, who told air traffic controllers he had spotted a drone on his landing approach.

"He saw a small, unmanned or remote-controlled aircraft while on final approach to Runway 31 Right," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown, in a statement to CNN. "The sighting was approximately four to five miles west of the airport at an altitude of approximately 1,500 feet," she said.

According to an FBI statement Tuesday, the Alitalia plane came within 200 feet of the unmanned aircraft, which it described as no more than three feet wide with four propellers.

"The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us," said Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone. "Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew."

The Alitalia plane did not need to make any evasive maneuvers, and pilots in other planes told air traffic controllers they did not see it.

Recreational hobbyists are allowed to fly remote-controlled planes up to 400 feet in the air, nowhere near as high as this supposed drone.

Government and public entities, such as police, are allowed to apply for exemptions from a ban on businesses operating these kinds of remote flying vehicles, but the New York City Police Department told CNN they were not aware of the incident.

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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