Drone sighting disrupts major US airport

Roman Schwartz
January 23, 2019

Flights were grounded at Newark International Airport in the USA state of New Jersey after two drones were spotted flying nearby.

Initially, the US Federal Aviation Administration said there were reports of two drones.

"Missed the drone by about 30 feet off our right wing", one pilot said.

Passenger Brett Sosnik was on a United Airlines flight from the Bahamas bound for Newark when the pilot announced the flight would have to circle in the air due to the drone sighting in Newark airspace.

FAA spokesman Greg Martin told CNN that the agency stopped flights at the airport after the initial report over the smaller regional airport some 25 kilometres away. Newark Liberty (EWR) is the 11th-busiest airport in the US.

"However, we still have a ground stop in place at other airports departing for Newark until a backlog of arrivals can be cleared".

As a result, six flights were delayed but only for around 15 minutes before all flight schedules were back to normal, the spokeswoman said.

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Authorities who oversee the airports in NY said they said support the probe into the Newark drone incident.

Both airports have since ordered military-grade anti-drone technology.

"The impact to our operations has been minimal so far".

The FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center briefly issued a ground stop at Newark citing "drone activity", according to a document posted on its website. We are working closely with the airport and the FAA to return our operations to normal as quickly as possible, ' the airline said in a statement to NJ.com.

This latest drone activity comes weeks after Gatwick Airport was reduced to chaos after drones caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled, disrupting travel for thousands of travellers around the holiday period.

In January, London's Heathrow airport was closed for about an hour when another drone was spotted near the runway.

Normally, FAA rules prohibit drone operation within five miles of airports.

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