Heathrow suspends departures after drone spotted

Daniel Fowler
January 8, 2019

Flights from London's Heathrow airport were halted on Tuesday after the airport said there had been sightings of a drone flown near Britain's busiest air hub.

"As a precautionary measure, Heathrow Airport has stopped departures and officers based at Heathrow are now investigating the reports with colleagues from Heathrow Airport", they said.

Heathrow staff are working with the Metropolitan Police and all flights have been grounded "as a precaution", an airport spokesperson said. "They've only given us one update to say it was because of drone activity in departures", one passenger said, adding that they have not been given an estimate to when they can depart.

It comes after drone sightings resulted in around 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted at London's Gatwick Airport over three days before Christmas.

One wrote: "So, waiting to taxi on flight to DC, they've just shut the engines off due to a reported drone at Heathrow". "We apologies to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause".

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.

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"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".

The government said there would also be extra extensions around runways.

This crucial technology will detect drones from flying around sensitive sites, including airports and prisons, and develop a range of options to respond to drones, helping to prevent a repeat of incidents such as that recently experienced at Gatwick.

Today, the British government announced a package of measures created to give police extra powers to combat drones. Exclusion zones are now one kilometre around airports and will be extended to five kilometres.

The government also announced from November, operators of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg would be required to register and take an online drone pilot competency test.

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