Aviation News

March 5, 2013

Pilots Report Drone Interfering with Flights on Approach to JFK Airport

More articles by »
Written by: Jason Rabinowitz
Tags: , , ,

On Monday, Alitalia 608, A Boeing 777-200, reported seeing a drone or unmanned aircraft while on approach to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport’s runway 31R. The incident occurred at approximately 1:15pm, and was first reported by NYCAviation.com on Twitter.

In audio recorded by LiveATC.net and obtained by NYCAviation, the pilot of Alitalia 608 can be heard telling the JFK tower “we saw a drone, a drone aircraft…about 1,500.” Following aircraft were warned by the JFK tower controller, with one additional aircraft reporting it to a ground controller shortly thereafter.

In the time since the incident, the FAA and FBI have opened investigations into finding the drone, of which random reports have been received since Saturday. In a statement released Tuesday by the FBI, the Alitalia 777 reportedly came within 200 feet of the drone. The FBI reports that the drone was black in color, no more than three feet wide, and with four propellers.

This description closely resembles commercially available radio controlled quad-copters, such as the Parrott AR.Drone. The FBI says Alitalia 608 was roughly three miles from runway 31R when the incident occurred, putting it somewhere over the Five Towns area of Long Island, a dense suburban area. The Woodmere Club, a country club with golf course, is directly under the flight path at three miles out. Nobody was available at the club for comment.

Anyone with information is being asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000.

This story will be updated as any new information comes our way.

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 closely resembles what the Alitalia pilot reported seeing.


About the Author

Jason Rabinowitz



United Airlines Returns To John F. Kennedy International Airport

United Airlines returned to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport this past Sunday following a 5 year absence from the airport,
by Eric Dunetz


UAS in the USA: A History of Drone Regulations

The FAA has developed regulations for drone operators to operate their UAS for fun or for profit in a legal and safe environment, but the path was not always quick or straightforward.
by David J. Williams



A 727? Again?

Take a stroll down memory lane with us as we remember a time when a now classic airliner was once so common that it was boring.
by Shea Oakley


An Ode to the Observation Decks at JFK

JFK once boasted three public observation decks to watch the goings-on at the busy international airport. Let's take a quick tour through history.
by Shea Oakley


So You Got A Drone For The Holidays! Now What?

Did you recently unwrap a new drone? Here's what you need to know in order to fly it safely and legally.
by Jay Haapala