International

Drone sighting disrupts major US airport

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

A pilot told air traffic control that one of the drones came within 30ft (9m) of his aircraft.

He was flying at Teterboro Airport, a nearby private facility, but officials closed Newark International as a precaution.

The airport is the 11th busiest in the US, with 20m boarding there each year.

The incident follows major disruption over the Christmas period at London’s Gatwick airport, where apparent drone sightings grounded hundreds of flights over the course of three days.

Speaking about the Tuesday’s drone scare in New Jersey, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said in a statement: “At approximately 5pm, we received two reports from incoming flights into Newark that a drone was sighted at about 3,500ft above Teterboro, New Jersey.

“At that point, flights arriving into Newark were held for a short duration. Since then, and with no further drone sightings, arrivals have been resumed.

“However, we still have a ground stop in place at other airports departing for Newark until a backlog of arrivals can be cleared. We expect that to be lifted soon.”

United Airlines. which uses Newark as a hub, said: “The impact to our operations has been minimal so far. We are working closely with the airport and the FAA to return our operations to normal as quickly as possible.”

Drones have become a considerable menace for the aviation industry.

Earlier this month, London’s Heathrow airport, the country’s busiest, held flights for about an hour after a sighting – but was soon operating as normal.

Gatwick, however, was far hit far worse. It grounded flights between 19-21 December, affecting the travel of an estimated 140,000 people.

Two people were arrested over the attack but released without charge. No other arrests have been made. (BBC)