WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Air New Zealand said Tuesday that a drone came within meters of a flight descending into Auckland Airport from Tokyo, putting the safety of 278 passengers and crew at risk.

After Sunday’s incident, the national carrier is calling for prison terms for drone operators who endanger lives.

Air New Zealand said the pilots of Flight NZ92 spotted the drone about 5 meters (16 feet) from their Boeing 777-200 at a point in their descent when it was impossible to take evasive action.

The airline said the drone passed so close that the crew worried it had been sucked into an engine, although a later inspection showed that hadn’t happened.

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