Drone sightings temporarily halt flights at US airport

NEWARK LIBERTY AIRPORT: Take-offs from Newark were halted, and inbound planes were held in the air after a drone was spotted over nearby Teterboro Airport. The first notice of a halt to flights was issued at 4.52pm. Just after 7pm, officials said nor
NEWARK LIBERTY AIRPORT: Take-offs from Newark were halted, and inbound planes were held in the air after a drone was spotted over nearby Teterboro Airport. The first notice of a halt to flights was issued at 4.52pm. Just after 7pm, officials said normal operations had resumed at Newark Liberty, ending a disruption that lasted about 90 minutes. It was unclear how many passengers were affected by the disruption.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
GATWICK AIRPORT: Drones were sighted on three consecutive days at London’s second-busiest airport last month, causing severe disruptions to airport operations. It resulted in about 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted and 140,000 passengers af
GATWICK AIRPORT: Drones were sighted on three consecutive days at London’s second-busiest airport last month, causing severe disruptions to airport operations. It resulted in about 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted and 140,000 passengers affected.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Operations at New Jersey airport resume after 90 minutes; incident being investigated

WASHINGTON • Reports of drone sightings in northern New Jersey temporarily halted plane arrivals at Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday, but normal operations have since been resumed, officials said.

A spokesman for the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier said flights into Newark - the 11th-busiest US airport - were briefly suspended after two drones were seen flying at 3,500 feet (1,067m) over nearby Teterboro Airport, a small regional airport about 27km away which handles mostly corporate jets and private planes.

The federal agency said information about the drone sightings was turned over to law enforcement.

The FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Centre briefly issued a ground-stop at Newark, citing "drone activity", according to a document posted on its website.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Newark and Teterboro airports, later said on Twitter that normal operations had resumed and that it was coordinating with the FAA and law enforcement authorities as they investigate the incident.

United Airlines, the largest carrier at Newark, said it was aware of the reports of drone activity and was working with the airport and the FAA. It said the impact on its operations had been minimal.

The issue of drones impacting commercial air traffic has taken on new urgency after reports of drone sightings in Britain affected air travel.

 
 
 
 

Earlier this month, flights from London's Heathrow airport were halted for about an hour after a drone was sighted near Europe's busiest air hub.

Gatwick Airport, London's second-busiest airport, was severely disrupted last month when drones were sighted on three consecutive days, resulting in about 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted and 140,000 passengers affected.

Both airports responded to the Gatwick incident by ordering military-grade anti-drone technology.

Earlier this month, the US Transportation Department proposed rules that would allow drones to operate over populated areas and end a requirement for special permits for night use - long-awaited actions that are expected to help speed up commercial use.

The Trump administration noted that there are nearly 1.3 million registered drones in the United States and more than 116,000 registered drone operators.

But officials say there are hundreds of thousands of additional drones that are not registered.

The US Congress last year gave the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security new powers to disable or destroy threatening drones after officials raised concerns about the use of drones as potential weapons.

In September 2017, a small civilian drone struck a US Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter near Staten Island, New York. The helicopter landed safely but there was some damage.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2019, with the headline 'Drone sightings temporarily halt flights at US airport'. Print Edition | Subscribe