NEW YORK — The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday they are investigating a pilot’s report that he spotted a small unmanned aircraft near Kennedy Airport.
The Alitalia pilot told controllers that he saw the aircraft as he approached the runway at Kennedy at about 1:15 p.m. Monday. The pilot said the aircraft was 4 to 5 miles southeast of the airport and was flying at an altitude of about 1,500 feet.
The FBI said the aircraft was described as black in color and no more than 3 feet wide with four propellers.
“The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us,” Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone said. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”
The FBI said the unmanned aircraft came within 200 feet of the Alitalia plane.
The Alitalia pilot can be heard on radio calls captured by LiveATC.net, a website that posts air traffic communications, saying, “We saw a drone, a drone aircraft.” The FAA said the pilot did not take evasive action and the plane landed safely.
The FAA and FBI did not say whether Alitalia passengers might have seen the unmanned aircraft.
It’s unclear what the small aircraft was. Some remote-controlled planes flown by hobbyists are wider than 3 feet. Under FAA rules, model planes are restricted to altitudes of 400 feet or less.