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Drone Passes Dangerously Close To Jet Near Love Field

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DALLAS (CBSDFW) - Authorities say a 'drone' came within 200 feet of a Virgin America flight descending down to Love Field last night.

The pilot radioed into the Love control tower around 9:30 to report a lit drone quadcopter with red and green lights.  According to a transcript of the call, the first officer said at first it looked like the drone was on the ground, and "the lights looked low then they went straight up and above the airplane."

At the time Virgin flight 769 was inbound from La Guardia to Love Field.  The plane was approximately 600 feet above ground and 1.5 miles out from the airport when the pilot saw the drone aircraft.

Airspace is controlled in a five-mile radius around Love Field, and no aircraft is supposed to fly in that zone without permission from the tower.

The plane landed safely with no evasion action taken.

The Dallas Police Department's Air One helicopter searched for the drone but could not locate it or the point of origin.

Jose Luis Torres, communications manager for the Dallas Airport System, says operations were not affected by the incident.

However, the FAA is concerned.  Public Affairs Manager Lynn Lunsford says if a small aircraft like a drone collided with a jet – particularly if it hit a pilot's windshield or got sucked into an engine – it could pose a very real danger.

If the FAA is able to determine who was flying the aircraft, the agency has the ability to take penalty action.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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