SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – A new report from the Federal Aviation Administration details just how often drones cause problems for airplanes above the Bay Area.
KPIX 5 found at least 32 reports of close calls in the past nine months. Most incidents were in the South Bay, including 15 close calls at Mineta San Jose International Airport. There were four incidents at SFO, and one at Oakland.
Chopper 5 is based at Hayward Airport, where we spoke with pilot Jack Brandt. "Definitely just a matter of time before something happens. You're going to have devastation and mass casualties," Brandt said.
Among the incidents: In February, the pilot of a Federal Express Boeing 767 flying 11,000 feet over San Jose saw a drone shaped like an "X," just 60 to 70 feet off his left side.
Two months later, the pilot of a small plane said a drone passed within 4 feet of his left wing as he was landing in Hayward.
In June, the pilot of a Southwest 737 landing in Oakland reported a large 5 foot drone came "pretty close."
And in July, a small plane with a student pilot had to take evasive action to avoid a drone over Palo Alto.
"You have to make an aggressive move to get away from them. Now you're putting your passengers in danger," Brandt said.
Before last year, close calls with drones were unheard of. Now, pilots said drones are becoming more popular because of the lower prices and ease of use.
"I'm extremely worried about it," Brandt said.
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