Drone Enters Flightpath of Passenger Airplane

Drones, the enthusiast way to get your videos taken from a perspective only caught by hanging off a tall object or sending a camera into space on a weather balloon. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to toy with its much larger cousin, a commercial aircraft.

On Friday, a keen enthusiast looking for the perfect shot, took to the Dallas Love Field with their trusty quadcopter. Once in the air, it isn’t clear whether they were going for a scenery shot or a unique look at a landing aircraft; either way it was too close for comfort and some airspace laws.

As a Southwest flight began its descent, the pilot called into air traffic control to report the sighting of a quadcopter within “a few hundred feet”.

“It was close enough to Love Field that the air traffic controller was able to see it from the tower,” Lynn Lunsford, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman told a local newspaper.

“Our pilots on the flight deck of Flight 28 observed a traffic conflict as they approached Dallas Love Field,” stated Alyssa Eliasen, a Southwest spokeswoman. “The flight landed safely and our crew filed a report with appropriate agencies. The Safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and our pilots take this responsibility very seriously.”

“We’re concerned because these are easily purchased devices, and they have pretty amazing capabilities,” Mark Duebner, the city’s director of aviation, told the Dallas Morning News. “But I don’t think the average person understands the airspace limits around the airport because they wouldn’t have reason to know them… We need to do some campaigns to raise public awareness, though because we don’t need these anywhere near the airport.”

Local police forces on ground and air were deployed very quickly after the incident, but couldn’t recover the drone nor the operator. With the easy access to drones, should they be controlled in a similar way to which model RC craft can only operate in certain areas as not to cause conflict with flight paths? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.