Pilot reports near-collision with drone near Minneapolis airport

The FBI is investigating the near-collision of a drone and a United Express flight as it approached the runway at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport early Monday evening.

United Express Flight 3504 from Chicago-O’Hare was approaching runway 30L at about 5:30 p.m. when the pilot reported his aircraft “almost collided” with what appeared to be a drone flying in the vicinity of Interstate 494 and Interstate 35E. The FAA called local police, but officers from Mendota Heights and Eagan couldn’t find anything.

According to a United spokesperson, upon descent at about 2,500 feet, the plane encountered a drone about 50 feet away from the aircraft. The pilot estimated the drone to be about 2 feet by 3 feet. The ATC was unaware of the drone, so no warnings were issued by the flight crew and the plane landed safely without incident.

This is becoming an issue at airports across the country. At JFK Airport in New York there have been 3 drone sightings in the past 3 days. Experts say drones pose a serious threat to planes, especially if they get sucked into an engine.

FAA rules prohibit people from flying drones above 400 feet, to avoid potential collisions with planes.