Federal officials are investigating a pilot’s report that he saw a small, unmanned drone flying near New York City’s John F Kennedy International Airport.

The FBI and the US Federal Aviation Administration are both looking into Monday’s report by an Alitalia pilot who said he saw the craft as he approached a JFK runway.

The pilot described to air traffic controllers a drone that he said was about 3ft (1 metre) wide and flying about five miles (8km) east of the busy air hub at an altitude of about 1,500ft (457 metres).

A web site that catalogues air traffic radio communications, LiveATC.net, posted audio of the pilot saying, “We saw a drone, a drone aircraft.”

The craft reportedly came within 200ft (61 metres) of the Alitalia jet.

The federal aviation agency said the pilot did not make any evasive manoeuvres, and that the plane landed safely.

It is possible the pilot sighted a remote-controlled hobbyist plane, but such planes are restricted to altitudes below 400ft (121 metres).

The possible sighting comes as more attention is being paid to government and law enforcement use of drones in the US.

Congress recently told the FAA that civilian and military drones must be allowed to fly in civilian airspace by 2015.

US Customs and Border Protection already has nine Predator drones mostly in use on the border with Mexico, and plans to expand to 24 by 2016.

source: www.skynews.com