Uh-oh. My reporting for BBC News:
A pilot told air traffic control that one of the drones came within 30ft (9m) of his aircraft. He was flying at Teterboro Airport, a nearby private facility, but officials grounded Newark International flights as a precaution. The airport is the 11th busiest in the US, with 20 million passengers a year.
Easyjet’s chief executive has called the recent major disruption at Gatwick a “wake-up call” for the aviation industry. Now, with Newark disrupted, even briefly, calls to solve this glaring issue will intensify. Newark is a gateway for many travelers going to and from New York City, and rogue drone pilots simply can’t be allowed to disrupt normal operations.
MIT’s Technology Review resurfaced its piece from December about the probability of a fatal drone attack on a commercial jet. It’s… sobering:
Anti-drone systems like nets might protect high-value targets like the White House, 10 Downing Street, or the immediate vicinity of major airports. But there is too much airspace around to protect it all—and from a technical perspective a drone can fly 2,000 feet up just as easily as it can fly near the ground. There is simply no good technical countermeasure to a swarm of semi-autonomous drones attacking an airliner. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the vast majority of people with the necessary technical skills are not willing to commit mass murder.