Drone Reports Temporarily Halt Flights From London's Heathrow

“We are responding to some drone sighting in Heathrow,” the airport said. “As a preventative measure, we have stopped departures while we explore. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

London’s Metropolitan Police said that they had received reports of a drone near the airport at about 1705 GMT on Tuesday, which they had been exploring with airport authorities.

It said police officers were among those who reported visiting a drone and it had launched a full criminal investigation.

The airport confirmed about an hour later that take-offs had resumed. Flight tracker sites showed flights departing from 1811 GMT.

A Reuters witness in a plane on the runway at Heathrow stated several aircraft were waiting for permission to shoot off before being told that things were beginning to move.

London’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, was severely disrupted if drones were sighted on three consecutive days in December, leading to roughly 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted and affecting 140,000 passengers.

Gatwick’s drone nightmare – the most tumultuous yet at a major airport – exposed a new vulnerability which will be scrutinised by security forces, airlines and airport operators around the world.

The British army was forced to deploy military technologies to guard the area around Gatwick, reassuring the airport that it was safe enough to fly.

Police said they were carrying out extensive investigations around the Heathrow area to spot any men and women who may be accountable for the functioning of the drone.

“We’re deploying substantial resources – both regarding officers and gear – to track the airspace around Heathrow and also to quickly detect and interrupt any illegal drone activity; a number of which are as a result of learning by the events at Gatwick,” police commander Stuart Cundy said in a statement.

He said military assistance has been implemented after the sighting but he would not offer any additional details as it could undermine the effectiveness of the measures.

British Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he’d been in contact with Heathrow Airport regarding the drone sighting.

“I’ve spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly if it prove necessary,” he explained.

Both airports reacted to the Gatwick episode by ordering military-grade anti-drone technology.

Heathrow stated it was working closely with authorities including the authorities and looking at applicable technology to combat the danger of drones.

The airport handled 78 million passengers in 2017 and is the main hub for British Airways. Its busiest routes concerning passenger numbers would be to Dubai and New York-JFK.


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