Drone spotted near Newark Liberty International Airport
NEWARK (AP) -- Crews on four commercial flights spotted a drone while preparing to land at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
NJ.com reported none of the pilots were required to make evasive maneuvers as a result of Sunday's drone sighting. The planes were between 2,000 and 3,000 feet in the air and eight to 13 miles away from the airport.
The FAA said it has received a significant increase in reports of drones flying nearby planes as they have become a more popular item.
The FAA said flying a drone "anywhere near" an airplane can bring criminal charges and fines up to $25,000.
However, aviation safely consultant John Goglia said the FAA should be conducting tests like they do with bird strikes to determine whether drones threaten an aircraft's safety.
"Drones, though they’re small and light, if they contact the aircraft, they’re unlikely to harm the aircraft," said Celeste Danzi, special agent with the FBI in Newark. "But if they got sucked into the engine, that could be a very dangerous situation."
Speaking to The Associated Press, Goglia said assuming after testing that it is determined drones won't harm planes then pilots should "take the hit and keep on going."
Danzi said that while the FAA is the lead agency in investigating drone cases, the FBI, through the Joint Terrorism Task Force, will participate in these probes.
"If someone observed an individual flying a drone in the area of the airport, that’s something that you could report to the FBI or call 911," she said. "You can reach the FBI in New Jersey at 973-792-3000, and we follow all actionable leads in these situations."
She also said the FBI is using social media to give updates to the public about laser and drone incidents.
David Matthau contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)