In what seems to be the primary intentional use of drones to disrupt civil aviation, continued sightings of two remotely piloted plane flying over and across the airfield at London’s Gatwick Airport beginning the night of December 19 have pressured the airport to stay closed to flights for over a day. In a letter posted to Gatwick’s web site, Gatwick Airport’s CEO referred to as the continued drone exercise “a extremely focused exercise which has been designed to shut the airport and produce most disruption within the run as much as Christmas.” He additionally stated the airport is cooperating with legislation enforcement to finish the “legal exercise.”
As of seven:00pm London time on Thursday, Gatwick’s runway was nonetheless unavailable for takeoffs and landings “due to continued drone sightings,” the airport introduced, and a few airways have cancelled all flights till additional discover. “We apologize to all of our passengers who’re impacted in the present day, however the security of our passengers and all employees is our precedence,” an airport spokesperson stated.
Drone sightings have been a security concern round London’s airports for a while. In 2016, a British Airways flight touchdown at London’s Heathrow Airport apparently struck a drone whereas on method for touchdown. Earlier that 12 months, the UK’s Airprox air security board issued an incident report on a near-miss during which a quadcopter drone handed inside 20 toes of a touchdown Airbus A319 at Heathrow. And only a month in the past, a drone got here inside 32 toes of a commuter plane touchdown at Edinburgh Airport. Within the US, there have been a whole lot of such incidents reported lately.
However none of those incidents has seemed to be as deliberate or as coordinated as the continual drone exercise at Gatwick, now spanning over 24 hours. The airport will stay affected tomorrow.
Whereas there was an outcry over the protection impression of drones consequently, British Prime Minister Theresa Might emphasised that the UK already has handed laws proscribing drone utilization and that no additional legal guidelines have been wanted. “I really feel for all these passengers whose journey plans have been disrupted by this drone exercise and the motion that has needed to be taken in response to it,” Might stated at a press convention. “Because it has been made clear, the exercise we now have seen is prohibited, and those that are caught endangering plane can resist 5 years in jail. And we’re consulting on additional points of this together with additional police powers. We are going to proceed to work with the Gatwick authorities with a purpose to carry this to an in depth such that individuals will be capable of get on to the journey that they have been anticipating over the Christmas.”
Incidents resembling this might enhance curiosity in anti-drone know-how, together with “drone weapons,” jammers, and different drone countermeasures. However many present options for coping with drones may intervene with common air site visitors, together with GPS jamming techniques like these developed for the army.
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