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Drone spotted by plane coming in for landing at Charlotte Douglas, FAA says

Federal authorities are investigating a drone that was sighted by a landing aircraft at Charlotte’s airport, WSOC is reporting.
Federal authorities are investigating a drone that was sighted by a landing aircraft at Charlotte’s airport, WSOC is reporting. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Federal authorities are investigating a drone that was sighted by an aircraft landing at Charlotte’s airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the crew of PSA Airlines flight 5123, a Bombardier CRJ2, reported seeing a drone about 1.5 miles from Charlotte Douglas International Airport as the plane prepared to land Friday afternoon.

PSA Airlines is a subsidiary of American Airlines, with a flight crew base in Charlotte, and flies regional aircraft.

The FAA did not say how close the drone came to the aircraft. Federal rules say drones aren’t allowed to fly within five miles of an airport.

The incident adds to the list of drones being where they shouldn’t.

Last week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said a drone pilot nearly caused a crash uptown with a police helicopter above BB&T Ballpark – which was crowded at the time for a game.

The helicopter pilots, who were flying in the dark at 100 mph, had to take evasive maneuvers to get away from the drone, which flew illegally within 20 feet of the helicopter.

It was the second time in two years that the helicopter, named Snoopy, has dodged a collision with a drone. An incident last year led to the arrest of a 26-year-old Concord man.

Nationally, pilots, police and citizens report more than 100 drone sightings a month to the FAA, data show. From January 2016 through September 2016, the most recent data available, they reported more than 1,360 drones, according to federal records.

Twenty-six were reported in North Carolina, including 16 in Charlotte – the most of any city in the Carolinas. Twenty-one drones were reported over South Carolina.

Many of the sightings came from pilots near airport runways.

In one case, on March 12 of last year, Charlotte Douglas had to stop using a runway because a drone was spotted in the area.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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