WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that 43 flights into Newark Liberty International Airport were required to hold after drone sightings at a nearby airport on Tuesday, while nine flights were diverted.
An FAA spokesman added that the event lasted for 21 minutes. The flights into Newark – the 11th busiest U.S. airport – were suspended after two drones were seen flying at 3,500 feet over nearby Teterboro Airport, a small regional airport about 17 miles (27.3 kilometres) away that mostly handles corporate jets and private planes.
The issue of drones impacting commercial air traffic has taken on new urgency after Gatwick Airport, London’s second busiest airport, was severely disrupted in December when drones were sighted on three consecutive days, resulting in about 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted and affecting 140,000 passengers.
The U.S. 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.
United Airlines, the largest carrier at Newark, said on Tuesday that the impact on its operations had been minimal.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)