All flights departing Heathrow Airport in London were briefly suspended on Tuesday following a drone sighting near the airport, less than a month after another drone incident shut down neighbouring Gatwick International for 36 hours.
Departures were paused as a “precaution” shortly after 5 pm UK time, according to the Telegraph, with police responding to “reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport.” Flights later resumed as normal at 6:15 pm local time, per the report.
A spokesperson for Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, told The Guardian:
“We are currently responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met police to prevent any threat to operational safety. As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”
The momentary pause on Heathrow’s runways comes just a few weeks after a mysterious drone sighting stymied all air traffic at Gatwick Airport during the height of holiday travel for roughly 36 hours. The incident prompted a response from police and military alike, although authorities armed with signal jamming instruments were unable to thwart the rogue aircraft’s path as it canceled 1,000 flights and affected the travels of some 140,000 passengers.
The Gatwick drone episode proved confounding for a number of reasons, largely because authorities had no specific protocol for dealing with the UAV in such a sensitive environment. UK police have since been given more extensive powers to deal with interloping drones, which includes the ability to seize, land and search them if deemed a threat.
In the case of Gatwick’s drone debacle, no suspects have been charged, and authorities are contending with a substantial dearth of evidence pointing to potential culprits.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics