CHARLOTTE – A drone caused a scare in the sky over the Charlotte Douglas Airport by flying in the path of a passenger plane.
Police say someone was carelessly flying the unmanned aircraft as the plane was preparing to land. It’s the latest in a series of cases with drones sparking safety concerns.
It’s illegal to fly a drone within five miles of the airport without permission from the tower. The FAA says the drone in this case was spotted about a mile and a half from the airport. The crew on the Bombardier CRJ2 spotted the unmanned aircraft while on final approach.
“You are a lot lower and you have a lot less space and speed to try and make it to the airport,” says James Conrad, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. “The worst fear would it [the drone] being at the exact location of the engine, going into the engine causing a failure of the engine.”
It’s the latest case of drones causing concerns in the Queen City and nationwide. Earlier this month, a drone came within 20 feet of a Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Helicopter near the Knight’s stadium with the chopper going 110 miles per hour.
Last year, a man was arrested after police say he nearly crashed a drone into a CMPD helicopter. In a separate incident, an airline pilot spotted a drone while coming in for a land; eerily similar to the latest case.
Conrad says planes are able to fly with the loss of an engine, but not for too long.
“The planes are designed to get to the airport, but why put yourself in jeopardy for someone’s failure to follow the rules?” says Conrad.
Officers responded to the area of the incident, but were unable to find the operator. The FAA is investigating the incident.