Drones Stop Flights At London Gatwick Airport

Photo by Annie Niemaszyk on Unsplash

Last night and this morning, Gatwick airport, one of the biggest in the UK, stopped flights in and out, after it received reports of two drones flying nearby. Gatwick first suspended flights at 9pm last night, when drones were spotted nearby, partly continued flights early this morning, but then stopped again shortly after has the drones reappeared. As we are writing this, the airport has still suspended flights in and out.

It’s a busy season at the airport, with people jetting off for a Christmas vacation and there are a lot of unhappy customers this morning. Reports are saying over 100,000 passengers are due to take off or land at Gatwick today. The blame solely relies on these people flying the drones, but why is it such a big deal and are they breaking any rules?

The UK’s CAA or Civil Aviation Authority said that “it is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.”

So what does the current law state? It states that flying a drone, of any sort, within 1km/0.6mile of an airport, without agreed permission, is illegal. If the people flying the drones are caught, they could be prosecuted and face upto five years in prison, which is a very serious sentence. I think it’s clear to say why such a law is in place, it could cause serious accidents & damage, if a drone got too close to the aeroplanes.

Next year, it will be a requirement that any drone user, will need to register onto a government database but until then, it’s quite hard to track down user and the police are unsure if they will catch the culprits of this incident. DJI, one of the worlds biggest drone manufacturer, has been aware of the issue surrounding prohibited areas, such as airports and some cities, that they have designed geo-fencing software, to help prevent their drones & their users, from entering restricted spaces. Watch this space, as more technologies get developed to help stop incidents like this occuring in the future.

We hope those affected by yesterdays and today’s problems, get to where they need to be this holiday season.

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