3 Jul 2017

Gatwick Flights Disrupted by Drone

drone

A drone flying near Gatwick Airport on Sunday forced the runway to be closed and flights to be diverted due to safety precautions.

Four Easyjet flights and one British Airways flight were diverted, and other flights had to fly in a holding pattern, while the runway was closed for two short periods of time on Sunday. An airport spokesperson said, “Runway operations at Gatwick were suspended between 18:10 BST and 18:19, and again from 18:36 to 18:41, resulting in a small number of go-arounds and diverts……Operations have resumed and the police continue to investigate.”

Steve Landells, from the British Airline Pilots Association, said that the safety issue of drones flying near aircraft “must be addressed before we see a disaster……. We believe a collision, particularly with a helicopter, has the potential to be catastrophic”

The UK Airprox board, which monitors aircraft near misses, said there were 70 cases in 2016, which is more than double the number for 2015. Up to May this year, there were 33 such cases, which indicates a further increase in frequency.

Flying drones near airports is illegal, with stiff penalties for anyone caught. However, experts have called upon authorities to introduce further measures to reduce the chance of incident and make the law easier to enforce, such as drone licensing or identification measures.

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