LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The pilot of a jetliner reported Friday that a drone passed about 200 feet above the aircraft as it approached Los Angeles International Airport.
The Lufthansa A380 was at an altitude of about 5,000 feet at about 1:30 p.m. at the time of the close call, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.
“The FAA immediately notified LAPD air support about the crew’s report,” Gregor said.
A Los Angeles police air unit in the area was notified, but did not spot a drone, a spokesman said.
Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, referred questions back to the FAA.
KCAL9’s Peter Daut reported from LAX Friday evening.
The Lufthansa plane, he reported, was just 14 miles from LAX when the incident occurred.
In Hawthorne Friday evening, some of the world’s most skilled drone pilots are preparing for high-speed competition.
“It is really fun to watch. It is something new and exciting,” says Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO of the Drone Racing League.
The Drone Racing League event this weekend at an abandoned mall will be safe.
The drone that came within 200 feet of the aircraft could have caused a catastrophe.Laws prohibit drones from flying near airports and more than 400 feet above ground.
The plane landed safely but the incident highlights a growing problem of near-misses between drones and aircraft.
Last February, a pilot for Southwest Airlines reported another close call involving a drone at LAX.
“Obviously it’s very sad that there’s been close calls with airplanes with drones,” says Horbaczewsk.
The founder of the racing league and not all drones, and more importantly operators, are the same. Drones used for racing operate indoors on a set track.. and cannot go extremely high.
“If you get a few feet off the course, your drone’s going to fall out of the air so it’s a very narrow thing that we’re doing here,” he said.
The FAA has recorded more than 650 close calls between drones and planes.. the majority happening in California. With drone sales expected to hit nearly two million this year alone, many fear it’s only a matter of time before these close calls lead to something far more serious.
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