Local technology blogger discusses close call between Tallahassee flight and drone

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-10 15:31:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)-- A local technology blogger talks about the near miss situation between a drone and a  commercial airplane in Tallahassee skies.

Federal Aviation Administration officials say it happened March 22. The pilot of an American Airlines jet reported the incident to air traffic control as the plane approached the runway at the Tallahassee Regional Airport. The flight was en route to Tallahassee from Charlotte, North Carolina. The pilot said the drone was about 2300 feet above ground and about five miles northeast of the airport.

"Anyone in the drone community would not even for a second consider taking their drone to 2300 feet and definitely not taking it anywhere near an airport," said Mike McHargue, a technology blogger from Tallahassee who has experience flying drones.

McHargue says regulations for drone use can be confusing at times, but there are some basic guidelines that pilots should follow for their safety and the safety of others.

"Even without the guidelines, basically anything near an airport or above 800 feet is completely off limits unless you have a flight plan filed with the FAA," said McHargue, "and so there was no reason that that device should have been sharing airspace with a commercial airliner under any circumstances."

The FAA has investigated the incident, but says they are unable to identify the pilot or the drone's operator. American Airlines says they are also investigating.