Drone sighting temporarily halts flights at New Jersey’s Newark Airport
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Drone sighting temporarily halts flights at New Jersey’s Newark Airport

Incident comes after two main airports in the UK were shut due to unmanned aircraft affecting commercial air travel

In this Sept. 8, 2008 file photo, planes are parked at terminals at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. Federal aviation authorities stopped flights from flying into and out of Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, due to reports of drones spotted above nearby Teterboro Airport. Reports say the drones were no longer in the airspace and flights had resumed landing at Newark on Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this Sept. 8, 2008 file photo, planes are parked at terminals at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. Federal aviation authorities stopped flights from flying into and out of Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, due to reports of drones spotted above nearby Teterboro Airport. Reports say the drones were no longer in the airspace and flights had resumed landing at Newark on Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEWARK, New Jersey  — Flight arrivals at Newark Airport were briefly suspended Tuesday evening after a drone was spotted over another nearby airport, officials said, in the latest incident of the unmanned aircraft affecting commercial air travel.

At about 5 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration received two reports from flights headed to Newark that they had spotted a drone about 3,500 feet (1,000 meters) over nearby Teterboro Airport. The administration said in a statement that arriving flights were held briefly but resumed after no further sightings were reported.

The airport, which serves New York City, said just after 7 p.m. that it was operating normally again. The FAA had no reports of delays at the airport on its website.

Brett Sosnik was on a United Airlines flight bound for Newark when the pilot told passengers that they would be circling in the air because of a drone spotted in Newark airspace. Sosnik, who was returning from the Bahamas, said his plane circled for about half an hour.

“I was looking around trying to find a drone in the air when we were closer to landing, but I didn’t see anything,” said Sosnik, a New York City resident who works in marketing. “There’s got to be a way to combat that stuff and not have it affect huge airports with such a little piece of technology.”

United Airlines commercial jets sit at a gate at Terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport, Wednesday, July 18, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

United Airlines spokesman Robert Einhorn said the impact on its operations “has been minimal so far.”

London’s Heathrow Airport briefly halted departing flights earlier this month after a reported drone sighting — just three weeks after multiple reports of drone sightings caused travel chaos at nearby Gatwick Airport.

In the US, unless the operator gets a waiver from the FAA, drones are not allowed within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of most airports, and are not supposed to fly above 400 feet (120 meters).

The British military reportedly used an Israeli anti-drone system to ground an unmanned aerial vehicle that shuttered Gatwick Airport for over 36 hours.

Counter drone equipment is deployed on a rooftop at Gatwick airport in Gatwick, England, December 21, 2018 (John Stillwell/PA via AP)

The Daily Mail reported that the British Army used the Israeli-made “Drone Dome” to bring down the UAV after police failed for hours to do so with a commercial anti-drone system.

Six of the systems, which were developed by Israeli defense firm Rafael, were sold to the UK Ministry of Defense in August in an estimated $20 million deal, according to Israel’s Globes financial daily.

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