A remotely piloted drone nearly collided with a commercial airplane on March 22nd of this year, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal. The flight was a 50-seat regional jet operated by American Airlines, which encountered the drone roughly 2300 feet above Tallahassee Regional Airport in Florida. The pilot described the craft as "a camouflaged F-4 fixed-wing aircraft that was quite small" in a report to the FAA, although it's still unclear who might have been operating it. The jet did not sustain any damage from the encounter, but experts tell the Journal that there would have been a real risk of sucking the drone into the one of the jet's engines.
It's the first time a drone has been reported in such close proximity to a commercial jet, underscoring the risks that unmanned crafts could pose to conventional aviation if the field is left unregulated. On March 5th, a similar craft was spotted flying near New York's JFK Airport, spurring the attention of federal law enforcement. The FAA is still in the process of testing drones to develop a rules for sharing the skies. The official guidelines are scheduled to be released at the end of 2015, although it's widely believed the rules will come in late.