“The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us,” Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone of the New York FBI field office said in a statement. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”
The pilot of Alitalia Flight 608 saw the small, unmanned aircraft in Brooklyn, about three miles from the runway, according to the FBI.
“We saw a drone,” the pilot tells an air traffic controller at Kennedy, according to audio of the exchange posted on liveatc.net.
The air traffic controller then asked another pilot if he sees any aircraft. The pilot says he didn’t see a drone.
“One [plane] on the runway, that’s it” the second pilot says.
A third pilot also says they never saw a drone.
The possible drone, described as a three-foot wide black unmanned aircraft, came within 2,000 feet of the Alitalia plane, the bureau said.
An FBI spokesman told IBTimes that the possible drone sighting is the first such instance reported by a pilot at Kennedy.
“This is the first report I’m aware of,” he said. “Lots of laser incidents, but no drones.”
He was referring to multiple reports of laser pointers being directed at pilots flying over New York City’s airports. Pointing lasers can blind pilots and cause them to crash the aircraft.
Anyone who saw the drone was asked to contact the FBI at 212-384-1000. Callers can remain anonymous.