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Drones and green lasers imperil planes over busy airport

June 1, 2015 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A passenger jet took urgent evasive action to avoid striking a drone at 2700 feet on Friday as it approached one of the world’s busiest airports.

The crew of Shuttle America flight 2708 reported climbing 200 feet on the approach to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stated.

Shuttle America is a regional airline based in Indianapolis that feeds United Airlines flights at Chicago under the United Express brand. The flight that encountered the drone was arriving from Washington DC. It landed safely and without incident, Newsday reported.

Just hours before the drone scare, NY1 News said that five commercial airline pilots reported being targeted by green lasers while flying over New York and New Jersey the previous night.

Green laser strike

Drones and lasers have been branded perhaps the biggest emerging threat to aviation and US lawmakers are calling for restrictions on their use.

Suggestions range from requiring every drone sold in the US, regardless of where it is made, to include a mechanism that won’t let it fly in certain places, like around airports.

One of the main threats drones pose is that one could be sucked into an engine. Green laser light is considered particularly hazardous because it can travel for great distances and temporarily blind a pilot. Cockpit window glass acts like a prism, spreading the dazzling laser light around a cockpit.

Earlier this year, the FAA proposed new safety rules for small drones (under 25kg) conducting non-recreational operations.


The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.

“Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx commented.

Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a small drone would be classified as an “operator.” An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA drone-operating certificate.

Written by Peter Needham

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