4 Commercial Planes Report Drone Encounters at Newark Airport: FAA

The crews of four commercial airplanes reported seeing a drone flying near the approach path of the runway while landing Sunday at a Newark airport, Federal Aviation Administration officials said.

Each plane was approaching Newark Liberty International Airport at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 feet when the drone was spotted, officials said.

None of the flights had to take evasive action and all landed safely with no delays.

The encounters occurred just after noon. Crews from an ExpressJet, Northwest Airlink and two United Airlines flights reported the drone sightings.

"It's terribly frightening that an artificial object like that could get in the way of a major U.S. or international airliner and cause grave danger to lives on board," said passenger Jorge Lauro after arriving at Newark from Portugal with his family.

Some airline passengers say officials should take precaution to make sure sightings like these happen less often.

"I think that definitely it's a cause for concern," passenger Aaron Diskind said. "You want steps to be taken so that type of thing doesn't happen."

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It was at least the third drone issue reported at local airports reported this month.

A pilot reported an unmanned aircraft while approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport a week ago.

Two days earlier, two planes attempting to land at JFK reported seeing a drone flying near them, and one of them had a close call with the unmanned aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Operating drones and similar objects in New York City must have official clearance to fly withing 5 miles of an airport. FAA rules do not permit people to fly unmanned object above 400 feet because of the possibility of colliding with commercial aircraft.

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The FAA recently has seen a significant increase in pilot reports of unmanned aircraft near airports around the country, federal officials said. It is unsafe and illegal to fly an unmanned aircraft anywhere near a manned aircraft, and violations may result in fines of up to $25,000 and criminal charges.

--Ray Villeda contributed to this report.

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