Delta pilot spots drone dangerously close to plane while preparing to land at Detroit airport

Pilot says drone came so close to plane he could count number of propellers

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DETROIT – The pilot of Delta Flight 833 from San Diego to Detroit saw something strange Wednesday as he was preparing to land the plane at Detroit Metro Airport.

The pilot said a drone came so close to the aircraft he could describe its color and count the number of propellers.

The flight landed safety at the airport, but now there's an investigation underway to determine why a drone was even near the plane.

"There are times when you have some close calls," retired Delta Capt. Ken Pratt said.

Pratt said anytime a commercial plane comes in close contact with something in the friendly skies, there are concerns about safety. He said the Federal Aviation Administration and pilots go to great lengths to share the airspace.

It's unclear if the drone flew higher than the 400 feet operators are required to utilize or if it entered into the restricted airspace at the airport.

"I'm pretty confident a drone is not going to take an airplane out of the sky," Pratt said. "We're not going to test it."

Laser beams cause more problems for pilots. The FAA is already investigating a few incidents involving lasers at the Detroit airport this year.

"The laser has some potential to be permanently harmful as far as visual damage," Pratt said.

Delta said the passengers on the flight landed safely, and they likely didn't realize what the pilots encountered.

The FAA said they will continue to investigate because in this day and age, they don't take any incidents lightly.