Flights departing from Britain’s Gatwick Airport, its second busiest, have been halted for upwards of six hours from Wednesday evening into Thursday morning due nearby illegal drone flights that officials have said were deliberate but not terror related. Flights will continue to be suspended until at least 7 PM GMT as officials continue to monitor the situation.
According to the Sky News, a drone has entered and left the airport airspace a number of times during the period of the shutdown, with law enforcement calling out on Twitter, asking bystanders to help identify the operators if possible:
#GatwickDrones | We are appealing for information to help us identify the operators of the #Gatwick #drones. If you know who’s responsible or have any information please call 999 and quote ref 1350-19/12. Please RT pic.twitter.com/jkcakBohMr
— Sussex Police (@sussex_police) December 20, 2018
The drone has been identified by airport staff as a heavy, industrial drone as opposed to an off-the-shelf quadcopter and appears to have had its battery replaced multiple times during its brief disappearances. Police have been rightfully reluctant to attempt to shoot the drone down. “The police advice is that it would be dangerous to seek to shoot the drone down because of what may happen to the stray bullets,” COO of Gatwick Airport told Sky News.
Flying a drone withing one kilometer of an airport is illegal under British law and punishable by a sentence of up to five years in prison. In the six hours of disruption so far, 246 departures have been delayed and 202 arrivals cancelled, affecting upwards of 10,000 passengers.
Source: Sky News
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics