LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles International Airport is the second busiest airport in the country. But it is second to none in close calls with drones.
In the past month, there were 11 near-hits between drones and airplanes in the Los Angeles area, according to Federal Aviation Administration data obtained by CBS2 news. That’s the most in the country. Many occurred just a couple miles from LAX.
One flight coming into LAX from London, United Airlines flight 935, reported a drone was just 400 feet from the plane as it was four miles away from the airport and making its descent. Other close calls included a Jet Blue airplane that reported a drone off of its left wing just a mile from LAX.
What’s more, an Air Force refueling tanker reported a drone passed it at 2,700 feet in the air, near March Air Reserve Base. Model aircraft and recreational drones are restricted to flying below 400 feet in the air, according to FAA rules.
The use of drones near commercial airspace has concerned fliers, airlines and aviation experts.
“Those fan blades could become shrapnel and actually pierce into the body of the aircraft and damage the aircraft and perhaps even passengers,” said retired airline captain Ross Aimer, chief executive at Aero Consulting Experts.
Responsible drone enthusiasts are also concerned that the actions of reckless fliers could lead to an across-the-board crackdown on unmanned aircraft.
“The unfortunate part is people don’t do enough research to figure out how dangerous they can be,” drone enthusiast Chris Pino said.
“Your fun isn’t as important as people’s safety,” said drone enthusiast Alex Littwin.
Drones have also come under scrutiny lately as some have hampered firefighting efforts in the state. In response, the state earlier this week launched a tip line for concerned citizens to anonymously phone-in irresponsible drone use. The number is 1-844-DRONE11.