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Pilots report more close calls with drones, FAA says

The Federal Aviation Administration said commercial pilots have reported more than 650 close calls with drones in 2015. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)
The Federal Aviation Administration said commercial pilots have reported more than 650 close calls with drones in 2015. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner) Star-Telegram

Pilots are reporting more close calls with drones, a new government report says.

On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration said pilots have reported more than 650 drone sightings this year, up from a total of 238 in all of 2014.

The agency, which regulates air space, says some drones have interfered with commercial aircraft as they are coming into airports to land.

On Sunday, four airline crews reported seeing a drone while the aircraft were on approach to Newark Liberty International Airport. The drone was flying at an altitude between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. All of the aircraft landed without incident.

“The FAA wants to send out a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal,” the agency said. “Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges including possible jail time.”

Drone operators could face fines up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in jail, the FAA said.

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