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Boston Globe: Ed Markey says FAA must do more to prevent drone-plane mishaps

Concerned by recent reports of drones flying dangerously close to planes over the skies of Massachusetts, Senator Edward J. Markey sent a letter to federal aviation officials Monday seeking a host of details on what the agency is doing to prevent potential collisions.

“All it takes is one drone to fly into the path of one passenger jet and a disaster can ensue,” Markey wrote to FAA head Michael P. Huerta. “We must take action before a catastrophe like this happens.”

Markey cited an increasing number of reports in recent months of drones flying close to passenger planes and near airports around the country, including relatively close to runways at Logan International Airport .

“Just last month, on New Year’s Day, a commercial plane reportedly spotted a drone flying 700 feet in the air just one mile from Logan Airport,” he wrote. “These incidents have only heightened concerns about the safety and security of the airspace around the Commonwealth’s airports.”

Markey asked the FAA to provide him answers by the end of the month to the questions he has on the topic.

Though some of his questions have been answered publicly before by the FAA, Markey sought more specific and more comprehensive answers.

Markey is a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which oversees aviation operations and safety.

Markey’s letter asked that the agency provide a list of drone sightings within 5 miles of any Massachusetts airport during 2014 and 2015 and details about the date, location, and FAA response to each incident.