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Drone Spotted In Path Of Planes At Newark Liberty International Airport

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Another drone was reported Sunday in the path of several flights at a Tri-State Area airport.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said a drone was found on the final approach path to Runway 4 Right at Newark Liberty International Airport between noon and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, air traffic control tower audio captured the disturbing incident.

"Attention all aircraft use caution," an air traffic controller warns. "Drone activity reported left side."

The drone was spotted by the pilots of four commercial flights, which were between 2,000 and 3,000 feet in the air and between eight and 13 miles from the airport at the time, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The flights were ExpressJet 3267, an Embraer E145; Northwest Airlink 5837, an Embraer E170; United Airlines 107, a Boeing 767; and United Airlines 1210, a Boeing 737, the FAA said.

A pilot is heard telling the air traffic control tower about the drone.

Pilot: "Approach, Encompass 58-37, we just found a drone at 3,000 here."

Tower: "Encompass 58-37-- you saw the drone, what altitude you said?"

Pilot: "Three thousand feet, it was probably about 400 off the left wing.

Tower: "About how far off the left you said?"

Pilot: "About a quarter of a mile, it's a red drone."

None of the flights had to take evasive action, and they all landed safely, the FAA said.

But people at the airport Sunday were alarmed.

"Pilots are all very well-trained. They're trained for emergency situations," said Andrea Becker of Summit, New Jersey. "But things like a bird strike or something like a drone is unpredictable and out of their control -- it's extremely dangerous.

Last week alone, there were three reports in as many days of drones near John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The FAA noted that even small, hobby-type drones are dangerous to planes, and that it is illegal to operate drones in a way that interferes with manned aircraft.

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who landed a US Airways in the Hudson River in 2009, said drones are far more heavy and dangerous than the birds that brought down his plane.

The FAA can fine violators $1,000 to $25,000. Following the incidents at JFK, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said he is taking a more aggressive approach to finding and prosecuting people who fly drones near local airports.

Some passengers said the apparent growing trend screams for tougher regulations.

"The drones are something that, you know, could be very helpful or harmful for the future, and we need to get a handle of it," Becker said.

"I don't know what kind of point you would be proving by flying around near an airport," added Ray Gonzalez of Holmdel, New Jersey. "I just think it's probably stupid people doing stupid things."

There are drones with software that makes them inoperable inside designated no-fly zones. Some drone companies are suggesting that technology should be made universal with all unmanned aircraft.

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