Newark drones: Flights suspended at major US travel hub after multiple sightings of unmanned aircraft

Authorities say arriving flights were held briefly but services later resumed

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 23 January 2019 06:19 GMT
Newark airport
Newark airport (EPA)

Flights were suspended at one of the US's busiest international airports on Tuesday evening after multiple sightings of drones at an adjacent airstrip.

Two unmanned aircraft were seen at Teterboro Airport, a private facility next to New Jersey's Newark International, with one pilot telling air traffic controllers that a drone passed within 30ft (9m) of his plane.

Authorities suspended flights at both airports from about 5pm local time as a precaution. The airport, which serves New York City, said just after 7pm that it was operating normally again.

And while the disruption was only relatively brief, the incident called to mind similar closures at London Heathrow earlier this month and, a few weeks earlier, the days-long travel chaos caused by drones at Gatwick Airport.

United Airlines spokesman Robert Einhorn said the impact of the Newark incident on its operations "has been minimal so far".

Brett Sosnik was on a United Airlines flight bound for Newark when the pilot told passengers they would be circling in the air because of a drone spotted in Newark airspace.

Mr Sosnik, who was returning from the Bahamas, said his plane circled for about half an hour.

"I was looking around trying to find a drone in the air when we were closer to landing, but I didn't see anything," said Mr Sosnik, a New York City resident who works in marketing.

"There's got to be a way to combat that stuff and not have it affect huge airports with such a little piece of technology."

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said in a statement late on Tuesday that some Newark-bound flights were still being held on the ground in order to limit the knock-on effect of the runway closure.

The agency said the incident was being investigated by the police.

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