WASHINGTON - The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that 43 flights into New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport were required to hold after drone sightings at a nearby airport on Tuesday, while nine flights were diverted. The incident comes as major U.S. airports are assessing the threat of drones and have been holding meetings to address the issue. The issue of drones impacting commercial air traffic came to the fore after London's second-busiest airport, Gatwick Airport, was severely disrupted in December when drones were sighted on three consecutive days. An FAA spokesman said that Tuesday's event lasted for 21 minutes. The flights into Newark, the 11th-busiest U.S. airport, were suspended after a drone was seen flying at 3,500 feet over nearby Teterboro Airport, a small regional airport about 17 miles (27.3 km) away that mostly handles corporate jets and private planes.
An estimated 7 million drones will be flying in the skies by 2020; Claudia Cowan reports on the new technology being developed to keep airports safe. But some people either don't care or use drones to intentionally disrupt airport operations. Last December, drone sightings at London's Gatwick Airport forced a three-day shutdown, and canceled flights left thousands of stranded passengers scrambling. No one has been arrested in the case, and this past April, investigators said it could have been an inside job. In recent months, suspected or confirmed drone activity has grounded flights in Dubai, New Zealand, Israel, and at Newark Airport in New Jersey.
The Army used a cutting-edge Israeli anti-drone system to defeat the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that brought misery to hundreds of thousands of people at Gatwick airport. The British Army bought six'Drone Dome' systems for £15.8 million in 2018 and the technology is used in Syria to destroy ISIS UAVs. Police had been seen on Thursday with an off-the-shelf DJI system that tracks drones made by that manufacturer and shows officers where the operator is (DJI is the most popular commercial drone brand.) However, the drone used at Gatwick is thought to have been either hacked or an advanced non-DJI drone, which rendered the commercial technology used by the police useless. At that point, the Army's'Drone Dome' system made by Rafael was called in.
The airport's only runway was reopened on Friday morning, with a range or protection and surveillance measures reportedly put in place to prevent further chaos. One of the key tools for spotting drones will be radar. "The military has a range of technologies to secure airspace against planes, helicopters and drones," Mr Gill said. "They will be able to provide military-grade radar technology in order to help detect the drones and potentially the operators." One such radar system that may be deployed at Gatwick is the Israeli-developed Drone Dome system, of which the British Army bought six earlier this year.
Drones flying around London's busy Gatwick airport have disrupted air travel since Wednesday evening, but now the Sussex Police Department has announced two arrests connected to the incidents. The airport reopened for service Friday morning, but the Guardian reports that another drone sighting shut down flights for about an hour around 5 PM. Police Superintendent James Collis said the arrests occurred around 10 PM (local time) Friday. There are no further details on who the police nabbed or what's behind their "criminal use of drones" but the police are remaining on site and asking the public to call in if they have any information. Proactive investigations are still on-going: we urge the public to contact us if they believe they have information that can aid us further.