Newark Liberty International Airport Shut down After Drone Sighting

Drones flying close to airport caused outgoing flights to be cancelled for two hours.
Jessica Miley

Newark Liberty International Airport in the United States was closed on Tuesday after two separate reports of a drone flying in the area. The airport has resumed its normal operations.

“There’s something (inaudible) here. We don’t; we thought maybe it was a drone. But there’s definitely something (inaudible) here,” audio from air traffic control says.

“Yes, sir. Object, and it definitely looks like a drone,” the recording continues. “We missed the drone by about 30 feet off the wing.” 

The incident comes just weeks after drones sighting at Gatwick airport in London caused delays in hundreds of flights. The drones were spotted at around 5 p.m. only 3,500 feet above Teterboro Airport which is just 20 miles from the major Newark airport.

Flights grounded for two hours

Teterboro Airport is a small airport catering to private planes. All flights were immediately suspended at Newark Airport following the sightings, but planes were permitted to land just 45 minutes later.

Flights out of the airport were grounded until 7 pm. Newark is one of the three main airports serving New York City and the surrounding region. 

During the airport shutdown, incoming planes were asked to circle in the area until it was cleared for landing. The incident comes just months after Gatwick airport in London was shut for three days due to several drone sightings.

The shutdown which happened just before Christmas led to the grounding or diversion of more than 1,000 flights which affected more than 140,000 passengers. 

Gatwick incident costs airlines millions

Two suspects were arrested in having flown the drones but were released soon after questioning by police.

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The investigation continues. EasyJet, a popular budget airline, said the incident at Gatwick cost them £15m in passenger compensation and lost revenues, and hit 82,000 customers.

Both the UK and the U.S have clear legislation about the use of drones close to airports and other runways in the U.S the aviation administration limits amateur drones to an altitude of 400 feet. 

Drones are not permitted to be flown in controlled airspace such as close to an airport without permission. In the U.K it is illegal to fly a drone within 1 kilometer of an airport.

Flying above 120 m is also banned. Incidents involving drones have increased exponentially in the country rising from zero incidents in 2013 to more than 100 in 2017.

Sophisticated drones have dropped massively in price over the last three years making them a common hobby. They are also becoming a common tool for event and sports photography.

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