An American Airlines pilot told FAA officials that he nearly crashed into a drone over Florida this past March, most likely the first time a major U.S. airliner came dangerously close to an in-air drone collision.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration's Jim Williams, who heads up the agency's unmanned-aircraft office, the pilot of US Airways Flight 4650 from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Tallahassee, Florida, spotted a "small remotely piloted aircraft" about 2,300 off the ground. "The airline pilot said that he thought the [drone] was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Williams told the Wall Street Journal, adding that the fear in that situation is that the small jet's engine will suck in the drone — which, according to Williams, would be "catastrophic."
It's unclear who operated the drone, which was described by the pilot as "a camouflaged F-4 fixed-wing aircraft that was quite small." According to a representative from the Defense Department, who would not comment on this incident, most government drones are not in painted in camouflage. American Airlines, which own US Air, said it had no evidence of the event.