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Drone plane miss
A passenger plane over Las Vegas, as seen from an unmanned aircraft. (Facebook screen grab)

An apparent close call between a drone and a passenger airliner over Las Vegas is the subject of an investigation — and a dramatic video that’s being shared online.

The video is being condemned by drone enthusiasts and the organizations whose members fly unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

The short clip shows a Frontier Airlines Airbus jet passing beneath the drone on its way to a landing at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport . The precise altitude of the aircraft is not known.

A report on Air Transport World’s website points out that the drone flight is “clearly illegal and reckless” because the aircraft is above 400 feet, is near an airport, and is above another aircraft with passengers on board — all of which are “gross violations of the rules that govern unmanned aviation,” ATW said.

Drone U Leadership and the entire membership community want to join with other industry leaders to fully CONDEMN this reckless and criminal act. Drone U and it’s members work tirelessly in making our skies safe for all users of the National Airspace System. This pilot's actions not only endangered the flying public, but has the potential to discredit an entire sUAS industry.It is the opinion of Drone U and it’s members that the pilot receive swift and just punishment for this example of irresponsible and reckless flight.There is no excuse for this type of criminal behavior.

Posted by Drone U on Thursday, February 1, 2018

Drone U, a service that provides training and other resources for drone enthusiasts, condemned the action in a statement on Facebook on Thursday, which was attached to the video:

“Drone U Leadership and the entire membership community want to join with other industry leaders to fully CONDEMN this reckless and criminal act.  Drone U and its members work tirelessly in making our skies safe for all users of the National Airspace System. This pilot’s actions not only endangered the flying public, but has the potential to discredit an entire sUAS industry. It is the opinion of Drone U and its members that the pilot receive swift and just punishment for this example of irresponsible and reckless flight. There is no excuse for this type of criminal behavior.”

ATW quoted condemnations from two other groups.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, which represents hobbyist pilots of drones and model airplanes:

“No one should be flying in a careless and reckless manner and — importantly — all drone and model aircraft pilots must stay well clear of manned aircraft. We condemn the type of operation depicted in this video.”

The Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International, a drone industry group:

“All UAS operators need to understand their aircraft, stay well clear of manned aircraft and adhere to the law. AUVSI supports strict enforcement against careless and reckless operators who endanger the safety of the airspace and violate the law.”

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told GeekWire in an email that “the FAA is aware of the incident and is investigating.”

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