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Newark Airport investigates drone sightings that halted arrivals

One of the busiest airports in the US stopped arrivals temporarily Tuesday after drones were spotted nearby.

Airplanes at Newark Liberty Airport
Newark Airport briefly suspended arrivals Tuesday after drones were reported at a nearby airport.
Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday briefly suspended arrivals at New Jersey's Newark Airport after drones were spotted nearby.

A pair of drones were seen flying 3,500 feet (just over 1 km) over the smaller Teterboro Airport, which is about 17 miles away from Newark -- the 11th busiest airport in the US -- at around 5 p.m., an FAA spokesperson confirmed via email.

A pilot told air traffic control that one of the devices came within 30 feet (9 m) of his plane, according to the BBC.

"Normal #EWR operations have resumed after arrivals were briefly held by the FAA due to reports of drone activity north of the airport earlier this evening," Newark Airport tweeted at 7:03 p.m. local time. "We're coordinating with the FAA & fully supporting all federal law enforcement authorities as they investigate this incident."

The disruption lasted about 90 minutes, The New York Times reported, and ended after there were no further drone sightings. 

"We are monitoring reports of drone activity, which the FAA is investigating. The impact to our operations has been minimal so far," United Airlines, Newark's largest carrier, said in an emailed statement. "We are working closely with the airport and the FAA to return our operations to normal as quickly as possible."

Drones caused major delays at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports over the past month.

The FAA didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

First published at 4:36 a.m. PT.
Update, 4:53 a.m. PT: Adds full United statement.

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