London Gatwick drone sighting again shuts airport
Jack Taylor | Getty Images
Passengers wait in the South Terminal building at London Gatwick Airport on December 21, 2018 in London, England.
London Gatwick briefly halted departures and arrivals on Friday after reports of another drone sighting near the airfield of the second-busiest airport in Britain snarled travel for a third day during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
The airport had suspended operations on Wednesday after two drones were sighted near its runways. It remained closed on Thursday after more drones were spotted and the military was called in to help local law enforcement as they struggled to find the operator of what authorities called an “industrial” drone.
Flights began again on Friday but were halted temporarily due to an additional reported drone sighting, the airport said. It has since reopened.
The incidents underscore how easily a drone can cripple air travel. Air safety regulators have sounded alarms about the threats of drones near aircraft and airfields, as the devices become more popular and easily obtainable.
Government authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere have warned about the dangers if drones potentially collide with airliners. Researchers at the University of Dayton this summer released video of a test of how a drone could damage an aircraft. They released video of a 2.1-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter tearing into the wing of a small propeller plane.
“The incident today where unauthorized drone activity impacted flight operations at Gatwick airport clearly demonstrates that [unmanned aircraft system] operators’ intent to cause disruption or harm, which can create significant risks to the safety and security of the populace,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman McLaurine Klingler told Imagala.com.