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Drone flying near Newark Liberty Airport temporarily halts flights

New York

ALL FLIGHTS bound for Newark Liberty International Airport were halted on Tuesday evening after two pilots reported seeing a drone flying nearby, the US Federal Aviation Administration said.

The drone was spotted about 3,500 feet (1,066 metres) over New Jersey's Teterboro Airport, a small airport handling private planes, about 27 kilometres north of Newark Liberty, the agency said. After the sightings, takeoffs from Newark were halted and inbound planes were held in the air.

By 5.45pm, planes had resumed landing at Newark, but flights headed for the airport from other cities were blocked from taking off, the agency said. Newark is one of the three main airports serving New York City and the surrounding region.

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Just after 7pm, Port Authority officials said that normal operations had resumed at Newark Liberty, ending a disruption that lasted about 90 minutes. They said they would work with the FAA and federal law enforcement agencies "as they investigate this incident". Teterboro Airport is patrolled by the Port Authority Police Department.

The disruption came one month after reported drone sightings caused the shutdown of Gatwick Airport in London. Those sightings led to the grounding or diversion of more than 1,000 flights over three days. The resulting chaos affected more than 140,000 passengers in Britain and reverberated around the world, delaying tens of thousands of people travelling for the holidays.

The aviation administration limits amateur drone flights to an altitude of 400 feet and prohibits flying them in controlled airspace without a permit. Flying a drone near a major airport like Newark Liberty requires clearance from air traffic controllers. NYTIMES