An American Airlines jet just barely avoided a collision with a drone while flying over Florida earlier this year, a federal official revealed at a drone conference in San Francisco this week. Jim Williams, head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s unmanned-aircraft office, said that an American Airlines pilot told officials that the jet he was flying on March 22 had a very close call with a “small remotely piloted aircraft” about 2,300 feet above the Tallahassee Regional Airport. “The airline pilot said that he thought the [drone] was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it,” said Williams. While the aircraft was not damaged at all, Williams said the event—which seems to be the first incident of a major U.S. aircraft almost crashing into a drone—highlights the fact that “the risk for a small [drone] to be ingested into a passenger engine is very real.” American Airlines declined to comment on the near-crash, telling The Wall Street Journal only that it could not find evidence of the event.
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