in Aerospace

Gatwick flights disrupted due to drones

Posted 20 December 2018 · Add Comment

Gatwick Airport’s runway remains closed and all flights are currently suspended following reports of drones flying over Gatwick’s airfield last night and this morning.

Courtesy Gatwick Airport  photographer Jeffrey Milstein

There is significant disruption at Gatwick today as a result of what appears to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights.

Gatwick issued a statement in which it said: 'We are extremely disappointed that passengers are being affected by this, especially at such an important time of year. We are prioritising the welfare of those at the airport by deploying staff into our terminals to look after people as best we can.

'We are working hard with our airlines to get information to passengers but would advise anyone booked onto flights from Gatwick, or meeting arriving passengers, not to travel to the airport without checking the status of the flight with their airline or on our website first.

'We apologise for the continued inconvenience, but the safety of all passengers and staff is our first priority.'

A statement from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is based at Gatwick, said: 'The CAA is offering the following advice to passengers currently experiencing disruption at Gatwick Airport.  Under EU261 regulations, passengers that no longer wish to take their flight can contact their airline for a refund. For those passengers that do still wish to fly, we advise them to contact their airline to understand the options available.

'Given the reasons for the current disruption at Gatwick Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority considers this event to be an extraordinary circumstance. In such circumstances airlines are not obliged to pay financial compensation to passengers affected by the disruption.'

Responding to ongoing disruption at Gatwick Airport caused by drones, ADS said UK companies had capabilities that could help airport operators prevent such incidents.

The Department for Transport recently held a consultation on drones, which ADS responded to, with the Government expected to set out its plans in early 2019.

ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “Illegal and irresponsible drone flying can cause serious disruption and significant costs to airports, airlines and passengers, as we are seeing at Gatwick today.

“Regulations are in place to make sure that those who fly drones dangerously face stiff penalties, including up to five years imprisonment for the worst cases.

“We welcomed measures proposed in the recent Department for Transport consultation, and have asked Government to consider strengthening police powers, as well as the ability of airport operators and others to deploy electronic counter-measures.

“UK security companies, including ADS members of our Drone Platform and Counter-Drone group, can help airports tackle drone disruption. Their capabilities include systems to detect, track and identify drones, kinetic and electronic measures to prevent drone incursion, as well as advice and guidance to help users understand the legal implications of deploying electronic counter-measures in the UK.”

Commenting on the closure of Gatwick Airport due to a drone incident, Chief Executive of the Airport 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.

“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.”

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