Drones have already significantly transformed the conduct of military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other areas. Now, drones are beginning to change conceptions of airspace.
Yesterday (4 March 2013), an Alitalia pilot on approach to New York’s JFK airport reported seeing a drone at 1500 feet near his aircraft. The Alitalia plane successfully landed and airport continued to operate normally, but the sighting of a drone in the airspace of a major international airport triggered serious concerns about the potential of drones to disrupt air traffic.
This incident is currently being investigated.
NPR reports on the incident.
Readers interested in drones should consult P. W. Singer, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Penguin Press, 2009).