A US airliner nearly collided with a drone in the sky over Tallahassee, Florida, say federal officials.The FAA's Jim Williams acknowledged the incident Thursday at a San Francisco drone conference, citing it as an example of the "very real" risks posed by integrating drones into US airspace. In particular, a small drone could get sucked into a plane's engines and wreak havoc. The near collision was reported to air traffic control on March 22 by the pilot of an American Airlines Group jet as the pilot approached the Tallahassee runway en route from North Carolina.
The airline pilot said the drone "was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Williams said. "Thankfully, inspection of the airliner after landing found no damage." The pilot of the 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-200 airliner said the camouflage-colored drone was at an altitude of about 2,300 feet, five miles northeast of the airport. FAA rules state that the aircraft should be kept below 400 feet above ground level and should be flown a sufficient distance from full-scale aircraft. The FAA has been unable to identify the drone's operator.