Skip to comments.FAA: U.S. Airliner Nearly Collided With Drone in March
Posted on 05/10/2014 6:56:14 PM PDT by Seizethecarp
A U.S. airliner nearly collided with a drone over Florida earlier this year, a federal official said, a near miss that highlights risks posed by the proliferation of unmanned aircraft in U.S. skies.
A pilot of an American Airlines Group Inc. AAL +0.03% regional jet told officials that on March 22 he came dangerously close to a "small remotely piloted aircraft" about 2,300 feet above the ground near Tallahassee Regional Airport in Florida, said Jim Williams, head of the unmanned-aircraft office at the Federal Aviation Administration. Mr. Williams disclosed the incident publicly for the first time at a drone conference in San Francisco on Thursday.
"The airline pilot said that he thought the [drone] was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Mr. Williams said. Inspection of the aircraft later found no damage, he said, but "the risk for a small [drone] to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real."
The incident appears to be the first case of a big U.S. airliner nearly colliding with an airborne drone, although there have been other occasions of aircraft pilots seeing drones in flight. In March 2013, an Alitalia aircraft approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York observed a drone within 200 feet, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI on Friday said it is still investigating that incident.
The FAA said US Airways Flight 4650 from Charlotte, N.C., a 50-seat jet, was approaching Tallahassee airport when it passed the drone, which the pilot described "as a camouflaged F-4 fixed-wing aircraft that was quite small." The drone was more similar to a model aircraft flown by hobbyists rather than a so-called quadcopter that many see as the type of unmanned aircraft with commercial potential.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Very interesting. Thanks for posting. HOORAY to the pilot of the US Airways Flight 4650 from Charlotte, N.C.
Pay no attention to the drones behind the curtain.
These aren't the drones you're looking for.
This is an NOAA drone, kid.
See related FR threads:
Was the Drone/UAV Hovering in the JFK Landing Approach Kill Zone (LAKZ) a Failed Terrorist Attack?
Just as terrorists can use GPS guided drone/UAVs to target jet turbines in the Runway Kill Zone (RKZ) as explained in earlier posts to this blog (here), the quad-copter drone that was hovering in the JFK landing approach of an Alitalia jetliner on March 5, 2013 may have been the first terrorist attack in a Landing Approach Kill Zone (LAKZ).
Was the Bagram 747 Crash a Terrorist Drone/UAV Attack in the Runway Kill Zone (RKZ)? (OK...subsequent investigation proved it wasn’t, but...)
The Bagram 747 crash has many similarities to the even more horrific crash of AWACS flight Yukla-27, (here) which was caused by the aircraft striking at least two Canada Geese in the Runway Kill Zone (RKZ) as discussed on an earlier post on this blog (here).
Terrorists familiar with the vulnerability of large jet airliners in the RKZ could produce a nearly identical or very similar crash profile to the Bagram event. They could do this by mining the Bagram runway with autonomous GPS-guided multi-copters placed exactly where they would collide with each jet turbine as the 747-400 passed through the RKZ of the Bagram runway.
Wow. Thanks for those links.
We are headed for a time in which the skies will be saturated with drones, and if a major aircraft accident does not happen, it will be a miracle.
1. this will happen.
2. govt will not stop it.
3. will keep ocurring and’govt will just say eff it cost’of keeping you all safe.
1. it will happn.
2. if under a liberal pres, it will bve covered up and spun as a terrorist incident. when discovered libs will say the repubs are making a political issue out of it.
3. if under a repub pres, it will come out and the democrats will call for impeachment and removal.
Rezwan Ferdaus could have attacked Obamas Air Force One in a runway kill zone (RKZ) not unlike JFKs Dealey Plaza
In January of 2013 Retired Admiral, Dennis Blair, made the following speculation: I do fear that if al Qaeda can develop a drone, its first thought will be to use it to kill our president, and senior officials and senior officers. It is possible without a great deal of intelligence to do something with a drone you cannot do with a high-powered rifle or driving a car full of explosives and other ways terrorists now use to try killing senior officials.
He was actually a bit late with this warning because in September of 2011 al Qaeda wannabe, Rezwan Ferdaus, had already been nabbed in an FBI sting and charged with conspiring to crash two GPS-guided model airplanes packed with C-4 explosives into the Pentagon and the Capitol Building.
Ferdauss plans fell apart as he tried to obtain the C-4. But was it really necessary to load his drone UAV with explosives for it to be deadly?
Even a small model aircraft has sufficient mass to achieve lethal kinetic force if that force is applied in the right place, such as a vulnerable location in a kill zone. It is in such a kill zone that a president can be at risk. Killing he president wasnt Ferdauss first thought, as Admiral Blair had speculated, but it could have been.
Only Fredauss failure of imagination led him to resort to using on-board explosives on his drone rather than rely on the mass of the drone itself, which is exactly what the 9/11 attackers did with full-sized aircraft. So what would be a kill zone that would be a suitable target for a GPS-guided model drone?
There are many aspects of the JFK assassination in Dealey Plaza that remain in dispute to this day. But most analysts agree that when Kennedys Lincoln convertible slowed down nearly to a stop to make the 120 degree turn onto Elm Street in front of the Texas School Book Depository it was entering what should have been recognized by the Secret Service as a potential kill zone.
Oswald (and others?) was able to take advantage of the Dealey Plaza kill zone because:
1.The route and time of the motorcade had been published in advance which allowed Oswald to pre-position himself for a kill shot.
2.The limousine had to nearly stop to make the turn onto Elm presenting a nearly stationary target for the Oswald.
3.Oswald had technology available to him, a sniper rifle on which he was sufficiently trained, that he could use to attack JFK in the plaza.
Now, nearly 50 years later, it is increasingly apparent that new advances in micro-UAV technology incorporating autonomous GPS autopilot control can enable aspiring assassins and terrorists, such as Rezwan Ferdaus, to have the ability to attack the president in a V1-VR Terrorist Runway Kill Zone (RKZ) with similarities to Dealy Plaza.
The RKZ is a zone on an airport takeoff runway between two points called V1 and VR that every large multi-engine jet aircraft, such as Air Force One, must pass through while taking off.
If any two engines on a large multi-engine jet can be disabled in the RKZ by a terrorist attack, the aircraft will not be able to gain enough altitude to return to the airport and will almost certainly crash. The availability of inexpensive, GPS-guided autonomous model aircraft and helicopters (drones and UAVs) that are capable of precisely targeting the runway path of each jet engine in the RKZ makes terrorist attacks increasingly probable.
Air Force One today in the RKZ shares the following kill zone features of JFKs Dealey Plaza:
1.Even after advance publication of JFKs motorcade schedule made him more vulnerable to attack, today the presidents departure schedule for Air Force One is frequently broadcast in advance allowing assassins to preposition multiple GPS-guided model UAVs near the departure runway capable of mining the RKZ by targeting multiple jet engines of Air Force One.
2.Today the assassins sniper rifle and sniper nest has been replaced by GPS autopilot waypoint navigation model helicopters or aircraft swarms that can be directed to take up positions or intersect the paths of each of the four engines on Air Force One within the RKZ. thus ensuring a crash that would most likely be fatal.
3.This technology, like Oswalds carbine, is relatively inexpensive as demonstrated by Rezwan Ferdaus who was able to acquire it, although it did not occur to him to use it against Obama on Air Force One. We can only assume that future terrorists and assassins will contemplate attacking jet engines in the runway kill zone (RKZ) with model-airplane or model helicopter UAV.
These kill zone similarities to Dealey Plaza exist on each runway every time Air Force One takes off. This same RKZ exists on the runways for all military and civilian aircraft takeoffs as well.
What used to be called RC are now called drones.
From the article:
“A US Airways subsidiary that flies smaller planes on shorter routes on behalf of its parent operated the jet involved in the March incident, the FAA said. US Airways is a unit of American Airlines.
“The FAA said the Canadian Regional Jet 200 operated by US Airways was flying under visual flight rules, meaning the pilots would be responsible for scanning the skies to monitor and avoid other traffic, rather than air-traffic control.”
This would not seem to fit the JFK pattern of a terrorist trying to whack an aircraft by placing the autonomous GPS-guided UAS on an FAA instrument landing flight path.
This seems to be a much more dangerous case of a terrorist dynamically vectoring in on a VFR aircraft and coming so close that the pilot of the target aircraft thought he was hit!
BTW the speculation about the damage that a lithium battery in an electric model F-4 would be slight compared to the damage of a titanium mini-turbojet equipped model F-4, in my estimation.
I do not believe any of these recent events were accidents. There were two in England as well. One in Glasgow and one in London, both in the IFR landing approaches.
Terrorist are trying to perfect the technique of placing GPS guided autonomous drones in published static instrument landing approaches, it seems to me.
I have long expected them to target a vulnerable zone on the runway during takeoff I have named the runway kill zone. See my tag line and this link:
“What used to be called RC are now called drones.”
I missed one by less than 100ft a number of years ago. Some kind of RC unit, and it was not a small toy. I did not see it till I flew by it.
Put enough targets in the sky, and someone will hit one soon enough.
From the article:
“In March 2013, an Alitalia aircraft approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York observed a drone within 200 feet, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI on Friday said it is still investigating that incident.”
At least they admitted that that event looked like a criminal attack sufficiently severe enough to call in the FBI...but no perps ID’d yet...and they haven’t called it a likely terrorist attack either.
If the terrorists keep practicing their technique without getting caught they can only improve until they succeed, especially as technology improves in line with Moore’s Law which governs how much computing power you can pack into a tinier aircraft weapon delivery or kinetic system.
Again, it is not accidents that are now getting into the news now, IMO!
An RC craft does not have autonomous GPS navigation with near global capability, if properly mission configured.
Some folks might call that the same thing but with a different name. I do not!
When it happens, and it WILL happen, it will magically turn into a bird or will be identified as privately owned.
UPS delivers government drone to random person
The odds of receiving part of a $350,000 government drone in the mail are very slim.
But Reddit user Seventy_Seven got just that. He posted images of the contents of a UPS package Monday that contained wings and a control panel.
“Did I just get a drone in the mail?” Seventy_Seven wrote.
The wrongly delivered box, which was sent to an address in New York, came with a card stating it was the property of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s aircraft operations center in Tampa.
NOAA spokesman David Miller told USA TODAY Network that parts of a NOAA Puma drone were not delivered to the intended location of Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts for “environmental research.” In all, there were supposed to be eight boxes delivered to the sanctuary, Miller said in an e-mail.
“You’ve got drones!”
Why not install lasers on both sides of the runways? They could be locked-out for acceptable transponder codes, but could vaporize anything else in the area, including birds and the drones, before the aircraft enters the zone.
They didn’t see this happening?
As soon as I heard of all these drones that were supposed to be in the sky that scenario came to mind.
Like the idiotic idea Amazon had of delivering packages same day via drones. Come on !!
Just wait until a passenger jet collides with a drone. The s@@t is going to hit the turbo-fan.
“Why not install lasers on both sides of the runways?”
Check this out (from my collection of web links):
US military’s RAY-GUN truck BLASTS DRONES, mortars OUT OF THE SKY
In month-long tests at the White Sands missile range in new Mexico, the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HELMD) blew up 90 mortar rounds and several aerial drones using a 10kW-class laser mounted on an armored vehicle.
“We had considerable success,” Terry Bauer, Army program manager for HELMD told the Christian Science Monitor.
The HELMD system uses radar (or as the military calls it “Enhanced Multi Mode Radar”) to track targets and focus the laser on them. Once locked, the laser raises the temperature of mortar shells to the point where the explosives they contain combust.
“It falls as a single piece of metal with a little bit of shrapnel. It basically falls where it was going to fall, but it doesnt explode when it hits the ground,” Bauer said. We turn it into a rock, basically.
Boeing, which developed the system for the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, said the technology is now ready for an upgrade so that it can carry a 50kW laser, with a more powerful 100kW unit also in the pipeline.
Eventually the military want to use the system to shoot down incoming cruise missiles, rockets and artillery shells, although it’ll need some improvements before then. Mortar shells are relatively slow moving and have a trajectory that’s easy to predict, but a cruise missile flying a variable course will be a much tougher target to destroy.
Soldiers on deployment in America’s many ongoing wars probably wont get to see the system in action before they are retired. The HELMD system probably wont be ready for deployment until 2022 at the earliest.
“Just wait until a passenger jet collides with a drone. The s@@t is going to hit the turbo-fan.”
The 9/11 attack revealed a single point of failure that the terrorists exploited (no bullet-proof lock on cabin door) and the US and world air traffic ground to a halt until the crash correction of that defect.
IMO, using a GPS-guided drone to target the turbofan of a large airframe in the two-dimensional space of a runway rather than the three-dimensional space in the air is much more likely to be successful, despite recent close calls reported in the news.
If just ONE 737 was caused to crash catestrophically on take-off anywhere in the world in the same manner as Yukla-27 in the “runway kill zone” (RKZ) that I have identified and it was realized that this type of attack could be replicated at any time anywhere in the world...the world air passenger and freight traffic would STOP for who knows how long while authorities scrambled to develop on-the-fly anti-drone airport counter-measures.
US militarys RAY-GUN...
Thanks for an interesting article.
Pretty shocking how clunky it is and how impractical for widespread protection of civilian aviation any time soon...
Of course, there is stuff they aren’t showing...