Americas FAA

Virgin America flight from New York to Dallas encounters drone on approach to Love Field


Robert Wilonsky

Another day, another drone spotted near Dallas Love Field in violation of Federal Aviation Administration restrictions.

Lynn Lunsford, the FAA’s Mid-States Public Affairs Manager, says that around 9:15 last night, a Virgin America Airbus arriving from LaGuardia Airport was 1.5 miles away from the airport’s main runway when the pilot spotted a drone illuminated with green and red lights. The crew immediately identified it as a quadcopter.

The first officer told federal officials that initially he thought the quadcopter was on the ground. Then it shot “straight up and above the airplane,” the first officer reported, “approximately 200 feet above the aircraft while on approach.”

The jet was about 600 feet above Runway 13/31 when the incident occurred, according to Lunsford. But the flight landed without the crew being forced to take evasive action. Dallas police, in Air One, were unable to locate the quadcopter, which should not have been flying within five miles of Love Field airspace without the airport’s OK — which it most decidedly did not have.

“This was most definitely in controlled airspace,” Lunsford says. “We’re investigating.”

The FAA is still looking into the crash of a quadcopter near the Trinity River — and in Love Field airspace — that occurred in October.

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