The Joint Terror Task Force is now probing the sighting of the mysterious flying object, the sources said.
The Alitalia pilot spotted the unmanned craft - described as "a black drone" - hovering just 200 feet from his jet about three miles east of the airport as he made his approach from Brooklyn.
"He was very clear as to what he saw," a source said.
The pilot told investigators the object was flying at about 1,800 feet and looked like "a black drone about a meter square, with helicopter rotors on the corners."
"It didn't require the pilot of the jet to take any evasive action, and it didn't interfere with the aircraft," a source said.
The pilot landed safely.
The JTTF launched a full-scale criminal investigation shortly after the 1:15 pm sighting, sources said. The FAA is also investigating.
While sources said there is a good chance the "drone" might have been operated by a model-aircraft enthusiast, it was still the first time veteran observers at JFK could remember one getting so close to a plane.
"In all the years I've been with the airport, I can't remember a similar incident," one investigator said.
"Whether this is a hobbyist or not, it raises serious concerns."
Originally published by Philip Messing.
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