Drones

Drone sighting grounds flights out of UK's Heathrow Airport

Drone sighting grounds flights...
Flights out of London's Heathrow Airport ground to halt today following drone sightings in the area
Flights out of London's Heathrow Airport ground to halt today following drone sightings in the area
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Flights out of London's Heathrow Airport ground to halt today following drone sightings in the area
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Flights out of London's Heathrow Airport ground to halt today following drone sightings in the area

Another drone sighting has caused a temporary shutdown of a major UK airport today, with London's Heathrow halting departures for several hours as investigations commenced following a suspicious unmanned aircraft in the vicinity.

The shutdown follows another resulting from drone sightings at London's Gatwick airport in December, which disrupted hundreds of flights and left thousands of travelers in limbo. While that incident affected travel through the airport for more than 24 hours (not to mention the flow-on effects of delayed flights around the world), Heathrow seems to have got things back up and running pretty promptly.

Departures were stopped soon after Metropolitan Police received reports of drone sightings near the airport around 5 pm local time, according to the BBC. Heathrow Airport then said it was working with the police and Air Traffic Control to prevent threats to safety as a precautionary measure. It then resumed flights around an hour after the sighting.

Though the disruption was relatively short-lived, it is another example of how irresponsible drone pilots can easily use the small aircraft to create big problems. While there are a few technological solutions designed to ground illegal ground drones in situations like this, such as radio-jammers and shoulder-launched nets, none of them have been established as effective in preventing an event such as this.

As reported by the BBC, both Gatwick and Heathrow last week announced plans to invest millions of pounds in anti-drone solutions, though exactly what that entails isn't clear. In the meantime, Scotland Yard has launched a full criminal investigation to find the culprit in light of today's incident.

Sources: Heathrow Airport, BBC

7 comments
Juanjo
Sorry to be so simple, but why don´t the authorities use a good rifle to destroy the dron? Is it difficult to make a good shot? Is it too dangerous to use a weapon? I understand that electronic interference does not require the same aim, but the rifle is probably cheaper.
HighlanderJuan
I find it interesting that government's use of drones anywhere appears to be uninhibited, but private individual use of drones is often controlled or prohibited. It also appears that government's apparent over-reaction to the presence of private individual drones near an airport is unabated. Is there a reason for this? In the ongoing presence of birds near airports, why are private drones prohibited? Is this another example of a two class society's control of the lower class actions? Is there a dangerous side effect of allowing private drones to fly near commercial aircraft? Is government afraid that drones can be used to harm commercial aircraft? What about military or police drones - are they allowed near commercial aircraft? Just wondering...
piperTom
Juanjo should check the cost of liability insurance for people who shoot bullets into the air in densely populated areas. Those bullets are going to come down somewhere, likely several kms from the shooter; they're going to hit something. Besides that, it takes a really good marksman to have even half a chance to hit a small moving target like that and he needs to be close.
Catweazle
It is interesting to note that despite the abundance of CCTV systems at Gatwick and Heathrow including recording of all airside activity and the may thousands of smartphone-equipped travellers on the sites there is not a single frame of video nor a single smartphone photograph of the alleged drones. How likely is that?
guzmanchinky
I agree, use a SHOTGUN (which doesn't pose any risk if you miss, since the pellets are very small) and blast it out of the sky. And the whole debate over who gets to use drones near airports is a joke, since the government using drones knows to stay away from airliner flight paths whereas a private user or terrorist does not. But the ideal solution would be some kind of targeted pulse to disable the drone from a distance, perhaps even automatically, with severe repercussions for the owner...
Vitaly
Like in a Gatwick aint no hard evidences here. But in Gatwick we had the part that immensely benefited from drone hysteria. Namely Vinci got circa 1 bln dollar discount on buying price of 50% airport share. New case in Heathrow lacks such economical reason, thus I personally think of it as a social aftershock of Gatwick. This is not the first case of false drone alarm here, last time it was plastic bag from supermarket.
st1100
Catweazle you are 100% right in my eyes, not a single picture taken, nothing to show except hysteria. As Vitaly says, in Gatwick there may have been an economic reason for that (facts and links welcome) but I think it's just once more of the case, them against us. They want to control the drones and will do anything to get to it. There could be much better ways to do that, but hysteria and division of the people seems to be working very well, look at how the current western world is splitting up... So, no pictures of any drones means no drones in my eyes.