Drone flies close to Southwest flight on its way to DIA

A Southwest flight was 8 miles northeast of the airport when it spotted the drone. It was able to land safely.

DENVER - A Southwest Airlines flight on its way to Denver International Airport Saturday evening came close to a drone about 8 miles northeast of the airport, a spokesperson told 9NEWS.

Heath Montgomery with DIA said the drone flew near the plane just before 4 p.m. but doesn't have the distance confirmed - early reports put it at 100 feet from the plane.

The plane was able to land without diverting or any other type of incident, Montgomery said.

FAA controls the airspace five miles out from the airport and said the issue was more about altitude than how close it was to the airport.

Drones get close to planes about a dozen times per year, Montgomery said.

He said the reason the airport is putting out the information at all is so people know the rules regarding drones: no drone can interfere with, or cause a collision hazard with a manned aircraft.

Ian Gregor with the FAA said people who do fly drones close to aircraft can face civil penalties - fines - from the FAA of more than $1,400 per violation.

If the drone operator violates public safety laws, they could face criminal charges up to federal criminal charges.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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