Gatwick closed and flights still suspended until rogue drone is ‘brought down’

gatwick

Flights to and from Gatwick have been suspended following drone activity near the airport.

Causing severe delays for thousands of passengers, the airport was closed at 9:03pm yesterday evening when two drones were spotted flying over the runway.

Despite re-opening at 3.01am this morning, further drone activity meant authorities had to close the airport again and has remained so ever since.

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Authorities at the airport confirmed they are working alongside Sussex Police to investigate the sightings and have advised passengers to check their flights before travelling to the airport.

Police have now made a formal request to the MoD to assist with the ongoing incident but did not reveal what that assistance would entail.

In a statement, the MoD confirmed that “there are ongoing discussions with the police about any military capability that could be provided to assist with their operation.”

Unlike drones for commercial use, smaller toy drones aren’t tracked on GPS and don’t have height or distance limiters, what you’re relying on is good behaviour and knowledge of the law.”

As the day has progressed, senior figures in the industry and government officials including a spokesperson for the Prime Minister have had their say on events.

May has branded the drone activity as “irresponsible and completely unacceptable”.

A spokesman for the PM said: “These drones have been flown illegally and the law couldn’t be clearer that those found endangering aircraft could face up to five years in jail.

“We are in close contact with Gatwick Airport as they work with police to safely resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

Speaking to the BBC, Gatwick’s COO, Chris Woodroofe, said: “I have a drone on my airfield and Gatwick will not be able to reopen until that drone is brought down.”

He continued: “I would like to apologise to all the passengers who have been disrupted from this irresponsible act. Since 9 o’clock last night, that drone has disappeared and reappeared all night.”

It requires some money being spent on a technical solution, which might include a level of radar, camera detection, radio frequency detection and jamming.”

In total, over 110,00 passengers were expected to travel through Gatwick on Thursday, some of which were diverted to alternative airports.

The last announcement said how flights were suspended until at least 7pm, but this deadline is expected to be extended further.

Discussing what could be done, Martin Lanni, CEO of Quantum Aviation called for a technical solution.

He told the BBC: “It requires some money being spent on a technical solution, which might include a level of radar, camera detection, radio frequency detection and jamming.

“There are plans to introduce registration for drone purchases in future but that is the future and obviously won’t help today.”

Elsewhere, speaking to Radio 4’s World at One, Pippa Malmgren, co-founder of drone manufacturing company H Robotics, has speculated that the drone in question is likely to be a toy rather than one for commercial use.

She said: “Unlike drones for commercial use, smaller toy drones aren’t tracked on GPS and don’t have height or distance limiters, what you’re relying on is good behaviour and knowledge of the law.”

Tags : crimeDroneflightGatwick AirportSighting
Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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