WASHINGTON — As the popularity of drones grows, so does the number of unmanned aircraft sightings near local airports.
In the Federal Aviation Administration’s most recent list of sightings, from August 2015 through January 2016, more than two dozen incidents took place in Virginia, Maryland and D.C.
The pilot of a Southwest Airlines 737 reported a drone passing 100 feet below the plane as it descended to land at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
In December 2015, a passenger in seat 13A on an American Airlines flight from Providence to Charlotte looked out the left window and saw a drone flying alongside the plane.
Earlier, the pilot of a United Airlines flight from Paris to Dulles International Airport observed a dark-colored quadcopter as he flew near Bull Run Regional Park.
The pilot of a Cessna aircraft, heading to Charlottesville said a black, basketball sized drone flew in front of the small plane, moving quickly.
None of the incidents caused injuries.
The FAA says it receives more than 100 reports of unmanned aircraft sightings per month.
The Washington, D.C. area is the most restrictive of all jurisdictions in the country for legal operation of unmanned aircraft.
Small drones can be legally flown at 400 feet or lower, within the operator’s line of sight, as long as they are at least 5 miles from most airport, and 15 miles from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
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