Gatwick airport reopens after drone saboteur sows chaos

Gatwick airport reopens after drone saboteur sows chaos

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Gatwick Airport reopened on Friday after a rogue drone saboteur wrought travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of Christmas travelers by playing cat-and-mouse with police snipers and the army.

A police vehicle stands on the closed runway at Gatwick Airport after drones flying illegally over the airfield forced the closure of the airport, in Gatwick, Britain, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

After the biggest disruption at Gatwick, Britain’s second busiest, since a volcanic ash cloud in 2010, Gatwick said its runway was open and that a limited number of aircraft were scheduled for departure and arrival.

“Gatwick’s runway is currently available and a limited number of aircraft are scheduled for departure and arrival,” the airport said.

“Gatwick continues to advise passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before traveling to the airport as departures and arrivals will be subject to delays and cancellations.”

Britain called in the military and police snipers to hunt down the drone and its operator who flew what is thought to be an industrial style drone near the airport every time it tried to reopen.

Flights were halted at 2103 GMT on Wednesday after two drones were spotted near the airfield.

It is illegal to fly drones within 1 km (0.6 mile) of a British airport boundary, punishable by five years in prison.

With a surge in public enthusiasm for drones, there has been an increase in near-collisions by unmanned aircraft and commercial jets in recent years.

The number of near misses between private drones and aircraft in Britain more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, with 92 incidents recorded last year, according to the UK Airprox Board regulator.

Gatwick, which competes with Europe’s busiest airport Heathrow, west of London, had said Sunday would be its busiest day of the festive period.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alistair Smout

Source link: Reuters News

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