Washington: Flights were grounded for almost an hour at the 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 of his aircraft on Tuesday. He was flying at the Teterboro Airport, a nearby private facility, but officials closed Newark International as a precaution, the BBC reported.
The airport is the 11th busiest in the US, with 20 million boarding there each year. Flights between 4.50 p.m. and 5.40 p.m. had to be suspended, media reports said.
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 (Federal Aviation Administration) to return our operations to normal as quickly as possible.”
Speaking about the Tuesday’s drone scare in New Jersey, the FAA statement said: “At approximately 5 p.m., 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.”
Drones have become a considerable menace for the aviation industry. Earlier this month, London’s Heathrow airport, one of the busiest, held flights for about an hour after a sighting – but was soon operating as normal.
Gatwick, however, was by far the worse hit. It grounded flights between December 19 and 21, affecting the travel of an estimated 140,000 people.
Two people were arrested over the attack but released without charge, the BBC said.