Rogue drones have closed London’s second airport at Gatwick for nearly 24 hours.
The operators of the drone or drones have somehow managed to dodge the police and security teams at the airport who have been desperately been searching for the perpetrators of the illegal act.
There are very clear rules regarding the operation of drones within the UK and certainly close to airports or within one kilometre of them. Drone flights have to be below 400 feet according to the Civil Aviation Authority or the CAA.
Penalties for such breaches or endangering aircraft can mean up to five years in prison and the Army has been drafted in to support the police operation it is likely that the Ministry Of Defence has special or secret equipment to down such drones.
JAIL FOR OPERATORS OF ROGUE DRONES
The apparent cat and mouse game between the drone flyers and the security teams has meant that the airport has had to suspend all flying because of passenger safety concerns.
Even called ‘irresponsible’ by the Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May.
Disruption to over 110,000 passengers has so far occurred with more likely to be delayed even if the airport reopens very soon.
BALPA, The British Airline Pilots Association has called for restrictions around airports to be increased to 2 miles or around 5 kilometres.
Spokesman for AOA or the Airports Operators Association, Karen Dee said: “While the closure of Gatwick Airport caused by a drone operating illegally near the airfield is ongoing, staff at Gatwick are working hard to resolve this situation with the police and are supporting the passengers currently at the airport.
“At moments like this, we work together as an industry to put the passengers’ safety first. Airports across the UK are supporting Gatwick by taking diverted aircraft and helping passengers who were due to fly to Gatwick today.
CAA HAS STRICT RULES ON DRONES
“We urge passengers to check with their airline before travelling to their airport if they were due to fly to or from Gatwick today.“As this incident shows, drones can cause major disruption to passengers, who were looking forward to well-deserved Christmas breaks, as well as major financial damage to the UK economy. That is why flying a drone near an airfield or endangering aircraft with a drone is a criminal offence with penalties of up to five years in jail.”
The Airports Chief Operation Officer Chris Woodroofe “Passenger safety has to come first so the airport has to remained closed.”
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP Sec of State for Transport is for a limited time to allow night flights in and out of some other London airports in an effort to help passengers to return to the UK or get others away for the Christmas period. He says the action will be for one night only at the moment.
Baroness Sugg the Aviation Minister has said, “ These drones are being flown illegally”
LUTON LUCKY FOR SOME TUI PASSENGERS
One lucky group of passengers with the tour company TUI had their flight to Bridgetown Barbados diverted to London Luton and they left from the Bedfordshire airport to the sunshine of the Caribbean in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at around 5.30pm on Thursday afternoon. Airports at Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham are thought to have received diverted flights.
The Dronecode issued by the CAA is a simple set of rules designed to promote safe and responsible use: https://dronesafe.uk/
Don’t fly near airports or airfields (it is against the law to fly your drone within 1km of an airport or airfield boundary)
Remember to stay below 400ft (120m) and at least 150ft (50m) away from buildings and people
Observe your drone at all times
Never fly near aircraft