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Scepticism Around Drone Incident at Newark

dangerous incident - aircraft passed just near drone and avoided collisions


Scepticism Around Drone Incident at Newark


The latest airport affected by drones is Newark Liberty International Airport according to reports from several news agencies including the Washington post. On Monday evening air traffic at Newark Liberty International Airport had to be temporarily halted after two drones were supposedly spotted in the area. 43 flights into Newark were held up Tuesday after the sightings and nine flights were diverted.

Gregory Martin, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the drones were spotted flying near Teterboro Airport in Bergen County, New Jersey around 5 p.m. Teterboro is a general aviation airport about 20 miles north of Newark International. As a precaution, arriving flights at Newark were temporarily held, he said. The drones are no longer in the airspace and flights have resumed at Newark Airport. The FAA has since clarified that there were two reports of one drone, not two reports of two separate drones.

Pilots described seeing what “looks like a drone” within 30 feet of the plane on its final approach, Air Traffic Control audio obtained from LIVEATC.NET revealed. “Missed the drone by about 30 feet off our right wing,” one pilot said. The drones in the Newark incident were flying at 3,500 feet (1000m), officials said.

However, Brendan Schulman, a spokesman for the world’s largest drone maker DJI, said the pilots likely spotted something in the air, but said it’s unlikely it was a drone, the drones were reportedly flying at 3,500 feet. Under FAA rules drones are not permitted to fly higher than 400 feet. And while it’s possible for them to fly higher with FAA permission, Schulman said it’s “highly unlikely.” He said previous reports of drones flying near Gatwick and Heathrow airports in London — have made people more “predisposed” to assuming when they see something in the air, it’s a drone.

Police in the UK have since been forced to defend their Gatwick drone investigation amid suspicions that 67 reported drone sightings were all false alarms.

The FAA forbids drones from flying within five miles of airports, because of the threat they pose to other air traffic not just by distracting pilots but also because drone impact with the aircraft can be hazardous.

Adam Lisberg, Corporate Communication Director, North America for DJI also weighed in … “More reason to be skeptical of the Newark drone sightings: @flightradar24 shows both planes going ~250 mph when they supposedly spotted something the size of a dinner plate at 3,500 feet. Whatever they saw, it probably wasn’t a drone.”

Some flights were held at their points of departure in order to slow the pace of incoming traffic, FAA said. Planes poised for landing were left circling over the airport. One passenger, Adam Cohen tweeted: “I am currently circling over Richmond, VA because some numbskull (trying to keep this PG) is flying a drone over Newark Airport. I can’t express enough how stupid I think drones are.” Brett Sosnik replied: “My flight just landed we were told the same thing and thankfully they let us land on a different runway. Hope you’re on the ground soon too.”

Another passenger tweeted: ‘Just landed at Newark. Our United flight had to circle because of stopped takeoffs and landings due to nearby drone activity. Time to come up with technology to remotely shut down these drones’


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Cite this article as: Vidi Nene, "Scepticism Around Drone Incident at Newark," in, January 24, 2019,

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