Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Heathrow stops departures after drone spotted

Piloting a drone the rules The current drone rules
Priscilla Morrison | 08 January, 2019, 20:44

Departures from London's Heathrow Airport, the UK's busiest hub, were suspended today after a drone was sighted there, according to airport officials.

Just before 6pm local-time, a spokesman for Heathrow Airport said they had stopped departures as a precautionary measure.

It added it first received the reports at about 5:05 p.m. Tuesday.

The airport said the decision has been taken as a precautionary measure.

It comes just weeks after the Gatwick Airport descended into chaos amid reported drone sightings before Christmas.

"We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety", the airport's Twitter account said.

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An extra 25,000 flights a year could come through Heathrow before the third runway is built, in plans revealed by the airport as it launched a fresh consultation over its airspace and operations.

Gatwick and Heathrow officials have pledge to invest in anti-drone technology, with United Kingdom transport secretary Chris Grayling saying to Parliament on Monday to extend drone exclusion zones near United Kingdom airports. "We apologize to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause".

"I have already spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary".

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "We are in contact with Heathrow Airport concerning the drone sighting".

Grayling said the government would also begin testing the use of counter-drone technology as part of its response to a consultation begun before December's disruption.

The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately a five kilometre radius, with additional extensions from the end of runways. Heathrow also confirmed it would be buying systems to guard against drones.

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