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FAA investigating Drone Scare That Grounded Flights At Newark Airport

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Two reports of drone sightings caused a ground stop Tuesday night at Newark Liberty International Airport, bringing flights to a standstill.

Normal operations have since resumed, but the drone disruption came just weeks after a similar incident in London.

"There's something (inaudible) here. We don't, we thought maybe it was a drone. But there's definitely something (inaudible) here," audio from air traffic control says.

"Yes sir. Object and it definitely looks like a drone," the recording continues. "We missed the drone by about 30 feet off the wing."

The Federal Aviation Administration said the dual sightings came in around 5 p.m. about 3,500 feet about Teterboro Airport, less than 20 miles from Newark, prompting a police helicopter search.

The intrusion put all flights in the area at risk.

"They didn't tell us anything. We just went around. But the pilot never mentioned anything," passenger Daffne Barrera, who arrived from Iceland, said.

Some flights were delayed taking off. Others had to circulate in the air several times before they could land.

"About three times, more or less. But we thought it was maybe about the weather," said Barrera.

At one point, about a dozen planes were stopped on the tarmac.

This comes just weeks after drone sightings at London's Gatwick Airport resulted in hundreds of holiday flights canceled. Last year, another drone came close to a Frontier Airlines flight in Las Vegas.

It's all concerning for authorities, especially after a recent study showed what kind of damage a drone colliding with a plane could cause.

Tuesday's disruption at Newark Airport may have been short lived. But for those getting off long flights, it was rather frustrating.

"They shouldn't be flying near an airport, period. If they do and they get caught, they've got to pay the consequences," Thor Kongvold, who arrived from Norway, said.

The FAA is working with law enforcement to try and track down those responsible. FAA regulations say drones should not be flown above 400 feet.

Sources tell CBS2 those caught can face criminal charges and up to $15,000 in fines.


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