Just a few hours ago, Lufthansa 456, an Airbus A380 finishing an 11-hour flight, reported a drone flying just 200 feet above it as it was on approach to Los Angeles International Airport. The near-miss was reported to the LAPD, who immediately began a search.
As drones become more and more ubiquitous, stories of mishaps and misuse are becoming more frequent. In response, the FAA has required mandatory drone registration, while also mandating that drones be kept below 400 feet and more than five miles away from airports. Nonetheless, today, an Airbus 380 flying at 260 m.p.h. reported a drone flying just above it at an altitude of 5,000 feet. Flying about 14 miles east of the airport and on approach, the aircraft was in one of the most crucial stages of flight. The LAPD immediately launched a search for the drone's owner, but was not expectant of a positive result.
The A380 is the world's largest passenger plane, with a capacity of over 500 passengers in Lufthansa's configuration. While it's an incredibly hardy aircraft, a strike at low altitude over an urban center is nonetheless something to be avoided. As Senator Dianne Feinstein put it: "This is one more incident that could have brought down an airliner, and it's completely unacceptable. A near-miss of 200 feet should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by reckless drone use."
I personally have no patience for such behavior. It's no secret that the airspace above Los Angeles is incredibly busy, and to knowingly fly a drone high into that airspace is to willingly endanger lives. Some of history's most infamous air disasters have been caused by collisions over urban centers (PSA 182, Aeromexico 498). Drones are essentially invisible to radar, and while they are not the size of the planes that brought down the aforementioned flights, they are still sizable enough to be a serious threat to the operation of an aircraft.