View Full Version : FBI looking for "unmanned aircraft operator" at JFK

5th Mar 2013, 17:44
On Monday, March, 4, 2013, at approximately 1:15 p.m., the pilot of Alitalia Flight #608 spotted a small, unmanned aircraft while on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The Alitalia flight was roughly three miles from runway 31R when the incident occurred at an altitude of approximately 1,750 feet. The unmanned aircraft came within 200 feet of the Alitalia plane.

The FBI is investigating the incident and looking to identify and locate the aircraft and its operator. The unnamed aircraft was described as black in color and no more than three feet wide with four propellers.

“The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us,” said Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

FBI — FBI Seeks Public's Assistance in Identifying, Locating Unmanned Aircraft and Operator (http://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2013/fbi-seeks-publics-assistance-in-identifying-locating-unmanned-aircraft-and-operator)

5th Mar 2013, 18:08
Suitably remarked on here. Take your pick :) . . .
One Drone Missing; Reward Offered. Please Contact FBI | Zero Hedge (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-03-05/one-drone-missing-reward-offered-please-contact-fbi)

6th Mar 2013, 01:36
If I remember, there's a large radio-controlled model aircraft club just across the bay from JFK.
They use a section of one of the runways of a (now) unused military training airfield Floyd Bennett Field, some 6 miles (as the crow flies) south west across Jamiaca Bay.

Been there several times, always thought it was fairly close to JFK!

6th Mar 2013, 02:25

Audio there:

Desert Dawg
6th Mar 2013, 03:45
EW73 is probably on the right track re: model aircraft.

The UAV may have been a model aircraft flown with FPV (First Person View) equipment by a modeler from the model club a few miles away...

If it was a model aircraft flyer, then it is a silly thing to do because of all the ramifications that kind of behaviour brings...:ugh:

6th Mar 2013, 05:33

Maybe this model aircraft flyer want to make a nice video and be a celeb on Youtube ? :rolleyes:

6th Mar 2013, 06:26
Like the waynekerr flying this one you mean?

near miss between model plane and Pacific Blue 737-800 at perth Airport!!!! - YouTube

6th Mar 2013, 06:41
Regular RC model planes are quite hard to fly and most people need a few lessons or their model doesn't last very long - let alone get to 1500 ft. Most clubs that provide lessons stress not flying near full size aircraft.

The problem is that some of the off-the-shelf UAV type models are too easy to fly. They include crude autopilots and in some cases GPS that allow any idiot to buy and fly them - sometimes using mobile phone apps. They take off and land vertically meaning they can be flown from any small back garden, no brains required.

6th Mar 2013, 08:12
3 miles, 1750ft alt JFK elev 14ft(?)..hmmm..obviously another stable Italian approach!

6th Mar 2013, 15:15
I hate to let facts get in the way of a perfectly good -and cheap- dig at another nationality, but it was at 5 NM approx 1,500'.

Carry on. :rolleyes:

6th Mar 2013, 22:12
Black, no more than 3' wide and 4 propellers? Sounds like the AR Parrot that lives its box under my desk. Bought for its camera in the hope that I could get some good shots of my complicated house from above, it has yet to go in the direction I want it to.

Flippancy aside, the incursion may not have been intentional. Beyond 50m range those things can easily lose wifi contact with the iPad or iPhone controlling them, and stray.

6th Mar 2013, 23:11
Flippancy aside, the incursion may not have been intentional. Beyond 50m range those things can easily lose wifi contact with the iPad or iPhone controlling them, and stray.

If we want the freedom to use these things, then we need to accept some rules (still open for discussion)

If they lose their link to a reasoanble human control I would prefer that their straying go towards the ground and not up towards another aircraft.

Of course for the subject thread I don't have any idea what happened until they find either the device or the operator.

7th Mar 2013, 02:06
I thought the Control Tower would detect such an aircraft within the vicinity of
JFK Airport. This is interesting the a/c flying near Alitalia. I wonder what mission
this a/c has.:confused:

7th Mar 2013, 03:08
There is a 'local legend' of a R/C glider, approx 10ft wingspan or so, being flown ex Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, and it either got 'out of range' or the battery died, and it kept on thermalling up, up, and away....

Supposedly reported by a high flying aircraft out over the Great Aust. Bight....

Mid to late 70's ...or so the 'legend' goes...

Scary? Cheers. :ok:

7th Mar 2013, 06:17

7th Mar 2013, 07:00
Most RC models weigh less than something like a Canadian Goose. The UK hasquite good rules. For example anything over 7kg should remain below 400ft.

British Model Flying Association - BMFA - Model Flying and the Law (http://www.bmfa.org/ANO/index.html)


"...any model between 7 kg and 20 kg flying above 400 ft will be breaking the law and any model over 20 kg flying over 400 ft will be breaking the law unless it’s exemption certificate allows it to do so."


Over 7kg and there are additional rules even below 400ft..

The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7 kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft:

(a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;

(b)within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained; or

(c) at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirements for that airspace.

throw a dyce
7th Mar 2013, 07:14
Looks like the JFK incident would be a Quad Copter such as a Gaui.To fly one of these things at 1700', you would need an autopilot with GPS lock as you could hardly see it.Reason for flying in such a dangerous area/height.Don't know;Probably filming to get on Youtube.:=
These Quads are quite complex camera filming platforms,and can be pre-programmed to operate km from the operator,out of radio range,and can return to the start using GPS.They are capable of operating from anywhere so probably has nothing to do with aeromodellers at proper sites.
As far as stray gliders.We had a club trainer that was a powered glider about 6ft span.One of the guys managed to switch the receiver off on launch,so it just climbed away with an hour of fuel.Last seen at 2000-3000ft heading north towards the airport some 10 miles away.We never found it.:oh:

Ps.A quad copter of the reported size would be way less than 7kg.A 7kg model is a big machine and quite rightly have stricter rules.

7th Mar 2013, 08:41
In 1996, a model aircraft with a wingspan of 3 meters landed at Dublin Airport after its receiver battery failed;


7th Mar 2013, 10:33
A quadrotor sounds very likely. There are plenty of model planes with four propellers too (eg. B-17 models) but it's hard to count the propellers while they're moving. On a quadrotor it's pretty clear that there are four propellers because the frame is designed in an X shape.

An AR Drone seems unlikely; they're really pretty tiny (more like 1' across) and hard to see at any reasonable distance. However, it's easy to get much larger quadrotors these days for a few hundred dollars, along with very powerful video transmitters so you can see whatever the quadrotor sees.

Proper RC receivers can virtually always be programmed with failsafe settings (so if it goes out of range, it turns off all the motors and drops out of the sky) but few people bother to set this up. With it disabled, the last settings get used continually - which usually means that it's climbing. I'm not sure about other autopilots, but the Mikrokopter one also sets a hard limit on GPS range so it will not stray more than 250m from the starting point.

Most people are well aware that flying such a thing near an airport is a bad idea, even if the failsafe is set properly and they've set up GPS boundaries. Unfortunately, however, the world has no shortage of idiots with more money than sense.

7th Mar 2013, 11:05
@airclues... ref the RC craft landing in Dublin.... my informants tell me it was a LEPRECHAUN who did not want to fly with BryanAir flying it... do not believe everything you read... some people can "twist" the reality..... joke.... joke....joke...

8th Mar 2013, 12:38
I wonder how much liability insurance cover all these amateur (or other) operators of unmanned aircraft carry? In this other JB thread (http://www.pprune.org/jet-blast/509683-price-cf6-80e1-engine.html), it appears that the typical replacement cost of a new engine of the type you'd find on many modern twin-engined / twin-aisled aircraft to be between US$8-12 million. So if ever one of these amateur unmanned aircraft ever got ingested by one of these airliner's engines, the immediate costs would be substantial even in the case of a subsequent safe-landing (if not by a magnitude of several times that depending on any other damages, casualties etc.)...

So, just how much liability insurance cover are all these amateur (or other) operators of unmanned aircraft etc. actually obliged to carry...?! Only, I believe that my own home insurance policy limits 3rd party liability coverage to EUR 250,000 (approx. US$330,000), so wouldn't rely on that...

8th Mar 2013, 12:54
British Model Flying Association cover is £25,000,000 in respect of Public Liability.

What is horrifying is that in the video it is clear from the conversation that the model is deliberately being sent towards the full size.

8th Mar 2013, 13:16
The use of the 2400 to 2483.5MHz band for video links from model aircraft led to some widespread interference in Germany on a very few occasions. A good bit of panic on the part of the EC authorities required a change in regulations for WiFi in Europe which, at a conservative estimate, has cost European manufacturers of equipment using the band well over €150 million in redesign costs, meeting attendance etc.

The trouble is that for a vital link, you really don't want radio unless it is the last resort. Even then, you need duplicated equipment and guaranteed interference free frequencies....

P6 Driver
8th Mar 2013, 13:17
There is a 'local legend' of a R/C glider, approx 10ft wingspan or so, being flown ex Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, and it either got 'out of range' or the battery died, and it kept on thermalling up, up, and away....

Supposedly reported by a high flying aircraft out over the Great Aust. Bight....

Mid to late 70's ...or so the 'legend' goes...

I bet that you could find gullible people out there who will swear that it's still circling up there, unable to descend. Probably after alcohol has been taken.

Windy Militant
8th Mar 2013, 14:20
We had some hooligans crash a model jet onto a caravan site, Place called Llanbedr! ;)

9th Mar 2013, 03:07
In the US you are not supposed to fly RC airplanes over 150 mph. I know a guy with an RC jet that goes about 450 mph. It is about 2m long.

9th Mar 2013, 04:50
Are you sure about that speed limit? I just found this site listing rc glider speeds that approach 500 mph... Aircraft Speeds (http://www.rcspeeds.com/aircraftspeeds.aspx?rpt=BD)

9th Mar 2013, 12:08
Pennies from Heaven!

Airship is right on point regarding impact of badly situated UAVs with aviation hardware in use. The cost of engines, airfoil, etc repair & replacement will provide Insurers the means, motive, pull, etc to spoil this party very quickly.... but no doubt they will delay some to create a niche for some VERY costly insurance policies before demanding a clamp-down in the rules.

UAV's are bad news for anything flying, & the odds for collision will escalate rapidly with numbers. Likely the only parties legally allowed to have them will be police & other official emergency and snooping services, but a black-market for the things will prosper, salvaging the careers of some aging unemployed techies. Air to air and air-ground gunfights with single-use zip-guns may proliferate. Eventually mini counter-measure missiles, radar,lidar,etc will flood the black market..... could even help revive the world economy.... and bring back broad-brimmed hats.

One might call the whole phenom "desktop warfare".

9th Mar 2013, 13:49
Don't be ridiculous alicopter, there's no such things as Leprechuans. It was flown by a fairy.:p