Drone sighting briefly disrupts flights at Pittsburgh airport

Jun 5, 2023

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said a drone sighting had briefly disrupted some flights at Pittsburgh International Airport on Monday.

The FAA said in a statement it had earlier temporarily suspended some arrivals and departures as local enforcement attempts to locate the drone operator. The FAA had said that airplanes could have faced up to 60 minute delays in arrivals because of the sighting.

Drones near airports continue to pose a serious issue to aviation and resulting delays have cost in millions of dollars of economic damage.

The Homeland Security Department told Congress in July 2022 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) since 2021 had reported nearly 2,000 drone sightings near U.S. airports, “including incursions at major airports nearly every day. The most serious drone incidents force pilots to take evasive action during takeoff and landing to avoid potentially fatal collisions.”

Between 2019 and mid-2022, drone incidents caused U.S. airports to fully halt operations three times “and in 2021, over 30 partial suspensions of operations – resulting in millions of dollars of economic damage.”

Congress has been debating for more than a year whether to approval expanded powers to detect and disable threatening drones.

The White House wants to extend powers to detect and destroy or disable threatening drones to the TSA for airports and the U.S. Marshals Service for prisoner transports.

U.S. sports leagues have also called for legislation. The Justice Department told the Senate in 2022 that “outdoor mass gatherings, like open-air sports stadiums, are particularly vulnerable to drone attacks.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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