Drone Spottings Halt Flights at London’s Gatwick Airport

Drone Gatwick

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Flights in and out of London-Gatwick (LGW) have been suspended for more than 12 hours after officials spotted several drones around the airport.

The small unmanned flying devices were first spotted Wednesday evening, leading officials to shut down all incoming and outgoing flights. The Associated Press reported flights briefly resumed Thursday morning until another drone was spotted.

All told, flights have been suspended in and out of LGW for 15 hours and counting. Chris Woodroofe, the airport’s chief operating officer, said 110,000 or more travelers expected to move through Gatwick would be impacted.

They may be small, but drones pose serious problems for the world of air travel. A strike could cause a tragedy. That’s why aviation regulations in the United Kingdom – plus the U.S. and elsewhere – have strict rules for flying drones.

In Britain, flying a drone within .6 miles of an airport is punishable with up to five years in prison. In the U.S., all drones must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. Drone pilots must inform the airport and air traffic control before flying within 5 miles of any airport. Failure to do so can result in up to $250,000 in criminal fines plus jail time.

In London, it was clear to police that someone – or several people – were deliberately disrupting airport traffic with the drones. Woodroofe, the airport’s chief operating officer, said it was too dangerous to attempt to shoot the drones down.

Situated 30 miles south of the city center, LGW is Britain’s second busiest airport – after London-Heathrow (LHR).


Bottom Line

Drones can be cool for photography. Don’t fly them near airports.

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