WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Air New Zealand says a drone came within meters of a flight descending into Auckland Airport from Tokyo, putting the safety of 278 passengers and crew at risk.
The national carrier is calling for prison terms for drone operators who endanger lives after the incident Sunday.
Air New Zealand says the pilots of Flight NZ92 spotted the drone about five meters from their Boeing 777-200 at a point in their descent when it was impossible to take evasive action.
The airline says the drone passed so close the crew worried it had been sucked into the engine, although a later inspection showed that hadn't happened.
Under current regulations, drone operators who breach aviation rules can be fined up to 5,000 New Zealand dollars ($3,600).