12/08/2022

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13 minute final at Washington Nationwide Airport after drone sighted

WASHINGTON D.C.: Flights at Reagan Washington National Airport were suspended for some 13 minutes on July 21 following a drone sighting, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed.

According to the FAA, officials immediately notified law enforcement officials, and while there were residual delays, operations resumed soon after, but it did not confirm whether the drone or the operator has been located.

Flying drones, formally known as unmanned aircraft systems, within the 15-mile radius of Washington National Airport is prohibited without authorization from the FAA, a requirement that covers the whole of Washington DC.

According to the FlightAware.com tracking service, 90 flights at National had been delayed and seven were canceled due to concerns about a drone.

A similar drone sighting in 2019 near New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport caused delays to 45 flights and diverted nine.

In a hearing held last week, the U.S. Congress and U.S. sports leagues backed White House plans to expand powers to detect and disable threatening drones.

In 2018, Congress widened the authority of the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to disable or destroy threatening drones.

As this power is set to expire in October, and amidst the rising number of drones, the Biden administration also asked Congress to renew existing authority and expand its powers.

The White House wants to increase the powers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to airports and the U.S. Marshals Service to detect and destroy or disable threatening drones.

DHS official Samantha Vinograd said since 2021, the TSA “has reported nearly 2,000 drone sightings near U.S. airports, including incursions at major airports nearly every day,” as reported by Reuters.

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“Since 2019, drone incidents have caused U.S. airports to fully halt operations three times, and in 2021, over 30 partial suspensions of operations, resulting in millions of dollars in economic damage,” she added.