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Close calls between drones, planes alarm FAA

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of unmanned aircraft flying near planes and helicopters
FAA: Close calls between drones and other aircraft up sharply from last year 02:53

On the heels of releasing new proposed rules on drones, CBS News has learned that the Federal Aviation Administration is concerned about a dramatic increase in the number of unmanned aircraft flying near planes.

They said the number of drone and model aircraft incidents reported by pilots of planes have gone up significantly. Just in the first few weeks of the new year, the average is two a day -- well ahead from that of 2014, CBS News' Jeff Pegues reports.

The FAA said every day there have been roughly 60 reported sightings of drones from general aviation or helicopter pilots each month so far this year.

Major commercial airline crews have also spotted them. In some cases, pilots have had to alter course to avoid a collision.

"We believe that there's a significant number of people that are out there that simply don't know what the rules are," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. "At the same time, we have enforcement tools that are available to us, and we do take reports of reckless activity very, very seriously."

Less than two weeks ago, the FAA released proposed rules for the commercial use of small drones weighing under 55 pounds.

Following new regulations, drones could be flown up to 100 mph during daylight hours. They must remain within visual line of sight, and operators would have to be at least 17 years old with an unmanned aircraft operator certificate.

Under the current rules, hobbyists can fly drones up to 400 feet, but according to the FAA, there have been some recent reports of drones reaching 9,000 feet in the air, flying in the same airspace as commercial jets.

New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer believes the penalties currently in place don't deter operators from flying drones recklessly in the national airspace.

"I think there has to be tough enforcement actions, absolutely because safety has to come first," Schumer said. "God forbid there's a day where a drone collides with a major airliner and there are fatalities."

The new proposed rules will not become final perhaps for at least another year.

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