Header Ads

ANOTHER airport nightmare! Heathrow flights are grounded for an hour after reports of a drone over the runway - causing more havoc for travellers just weeks after Gatwick farce

Drone sightings have brought chaos for thousands of passengers at Heathrow airport tonight with all flights grounded for an hour as police investigated.  
Many travellers are still waiting on the runway unable to take off from the airport, which is the UK's largest, serving more than 200,000 people every day. 
Planes have finally started to take off again, but it is unclear how many flights will be delayed in the coming hours after departures were halted just after 5pm. 
The news comes just weeks after more than 1,000 flights and 140,000 passengers were affected in the run up to Christmas amid drone chaos at Gatwick.  
Some passengers stuck inside planes described vehicles out on the runway searching for the drone, while others were told they could ask to disembark. 
The Metropolitan police confirmed they were investigating reports of a drone sighting over the runway this evening, at the airport's busiest time of day.
Student Gabriella Linning, who is on grounded flight BA 1338 to Newcastle, told MailOnline the pilot of her plane said passengers should let staff know if they wish to disembark.
Gabriella, 20, also said that her pilot warned there may be 'considerable delays' to the flight, saying: 'It does look like situation is not going to be resolved in the near future.' 
She added: 'The pilot told us that air traffic control is having an emergency meeting to decide if the runway is safe to use.' 
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the military were 'preparing to develop equipment used at Gatwick should it prove necessary' earlier this evening.  
The alleged sighting came four days after both Heathrow and Gatwick airports reported they were investing millions of pounds in equipment to prevent future flight disruption. 
A Heathrow spokesperson said: 'We continue to work closely with the Met Police to respond to reports of drones at Heathrow. 
'Based on standard operating procedures, working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, we have resumed departures out of Heathrow following a short suspension. 
'We continue to monitor this situation and apologise to any passengers that were affected by this disruption.' 
Passengers have been tweeting their frustration over the chaos.
Among those stranded on the runway is British actress Wallis Day, who tweeted: 'Whoever's flying the drone over Heathrow... can u not. We gotta get to Krypton but we're being held on the runway.' 
David Zuelke wrote: 'Sitting on plane on runway at Heathrow Airport. Engines turned off. Airport is closed. No arrivals, no departures due to Drone activity in the area.'
A spokeswoman from the Metropolitan Police said they were called at just after 5pm to 'reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport'.
'As a precautionary measure, Heathrow Airport has stopped departures and officers based at Heathrow are currently investigating the reports with colleagues from Heathrow Airport,' she added.
The travel chaos comes just weeks after passengers were stuck on planes for several hours and were forced to sleep on floors inside Gatwick airport as flights were cancelled between December 19 and 21.
The cost of the chaos caused by the drones is expected to have run into tens of million pounds.
The cat and mouse game with police started as drones were deliberately flown over officers and the Gatwick control tower while flashing on-board lights before heading for the runway when officials tried to reopen it.
The Army used a high-tech 'drone dome' defence system that features a tracking system and a 'kill-jammer' that cuts a drone's communications and seizes its controls.
Marksmen were seen carrying shotguns at Gatwick - but officers said they could not shoot down the remote-controlled craft for fear of stray bullets.
A similar arsenal of weapons was used by British and US forces to help liberate Mosul in Iraq and neutralise ISIS drones.
Police, the Army and MI5 spies combed the countryside for days in order to find the culprit. 
The operator of the drone still remains at large and, despite widespread criticism, Sussex Police have no update on the probe.
Britain's most senior police chief admitted authorities need to 'up their game' in the wake of the drone chaos at Gatwick airport.
Sussex Police were criticised after claiming there may not have been a drone, before backtracking and saying there had been numerous reports of sightings.
After a couple were arrested and then released without charge, bosses of Gatwick Airport stepped in to offer a £50,000 reward for information.
Tougher anti-drone technology systems at UK airports have been called for which can spot drones for up to five miles away.
US airports use jammers to block the frequencies used to control drones, making them stop working if they are anywhere near a commercial or military runway.
They also have 'early warning' systems to tell air traffic control if a drone is approaching - but these are not in place at UK airports.
Experts believe a large drone could take down a passenger jet because it could shred an engine if it was sucked in or destroy its windscreen or windows, causing a sudden drop in cabin pressure.
Airports could be given powers to shoot down drones with shotguns or 'net bazookas' under laws to prevent other drone chaos.
Drone operators will also be banned from flying within three mile of an airport and the maximum height that they can could fly at will be lowered.
Police would also be able to force operators to land drones flown illegally near airports and prisons.
But Airport bosses have also expressed frustration at not being able to protect themselves against drones.
Labour have also accused the Government of being 'slow off the mark' to tackle threat from drone technology.
More follows. 

Airports could shoot down drones with bazookas to prevent further drone chaos

Airports could be given powers to shoot down drones with net-firing bazookas under laws to prevent further drone chaos.
Drone operators will also be banned from flying within three mile of an airport and the maximum height they can fly at could be lowered.
Police would also be able to force operators to land drones flown illegally near airports and prisons.
Experts believe it is only a matter of time before a collision between a drone and a passenger jet.
A large drone could take down a passenger jet because it could shred an engine if it was sucked in or destroy its windscreen or windows, causing a sudden drop in cabin pressure. 
Airport bosses have expressed frustration at not being able to protect themselves against drones.
And Britain's most senior police chief admitted authorities need to 'up their game' with anti-drone technology to protect UK airports. 
Labour have also accused the Government of being ‘slow off the mark’ to tackle threat from drone technology. 

1 comment:

  1. Almost as bad as the time that small plane flew over the US Capitol and the carny congressmen all scattered like skeeered little chillins! (lol)
    Twas quite the sight, tell you what..

    ReplyDelete