Footage apparently recorded by a German drone shows what looks like a terrifying near-collision between the unmanned craft and an Afghan passenger plane.
The video, which is nine years old and was recently rediscovered on YouTube, appears to show an Ariana Afghan Airline's Airbus A300 passenger plane carrying approximately 100 people, approaching the drone, writes English-language German news outlet The Local. The surveillance drone, known as a Luna, has been used in sparsely populated areas by German forces for the past 10 years, according to the site.
The distance between the two aircraft "could not have been much more than a couple of meters," according to German paper Der Spiegel. "Had they made contact, the Airbus almost certainly would have crashed."
The Local speculates that the nine-year-old footage, which had reportedly been classified, is circulating now because of German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière's decision not to equip the Euro Hawk, sucessor to the Luna, with expensive anti-collision technology. According to Der Spiegel, the video helped make a case for the importance of anti-collision systems -- standard features that helps aircraft detect and avoid other crafts.
Drone safety is not just a concern in Germany.
In March, a small unmanned craft came within a few hundred feet of a commercial jet over New York City, according to the Associated Press. The FBI and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration opened investigations into the incident, which was reported by the plane's pilot.
And in 2012, USA Today reported that some commercial pilots had voiced safety concerns about sharing the skies with drones and had noted incidents that occurred during flights in Afghanistan. For example, in 2011 a 450-pound remote-pilot drone hit a military cargo plane, destroying the drone and forcing the plane to make an emergency landing.