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Drone sighting briefly halts flights to Newark International Airport

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Following similar incidents in the UK

DJI Mavic Pro
DJI Mavic Pro
Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

A flying drone has paused operations at a major airport once again — and this time, it’s in the United States. All inbound flights to Newark International Airport (EWR) were halted due to a drone sighting, an FAA spokesperson confirms to The Verge:

At approximately around 5 PM we received two reports from incoming flights into Newark that a drone was sighted at about 3500 feet 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.

According to live flight tracking site FlightAware, arrivals to the NYC metro area airport were experiencing between a 16- and 30-minute delay, which isn’t a tremendous amount. It’s nothing compared to the 24-hour plus ordeal that shut down all air traffic at Gatwick Airport in the UK, or necessarily even the sighting that briefly shut down departures at London’s Heathrow Airport.

FlightAware

That might be partly because this drone wasn’t actually flying over the airport in question — but rather Teterboro, some 15 miles away. This brief shutdown seems to just be due to an abundance of caution.

US law currently prohibits flying drones within 5 miles of any airport without contacting its control tower, with tighter restrictions for busy thoroughfares like Newark. But the FAA recently announced it is considering loosening other restrictions, like flying drones over crowds of people and flying at night.

Update, 7:01 PM ET: The FAA has confirmed that inbound flights have now resumed.