Heathrow Airport: drone observation interrupts departures

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Heathrow AirportCopyright of the image
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Departures at Heathrow were temporarily halted after a drone had been sighted.

Flights from London West Airport resumed approximately one hour after police announced the presence of a drone.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said it was "a precautionary measure" aimed at "preventing any threat to the safety of the operation".

This comes after the disruption last month at Gatwick Airport, which saw thousands of people trapped by drones.

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  • The spokeswoman said Heathrow was working with air traffic control and the metropolitan police after the incident.

    "We continue to monitor the situation and apologize to the passengers involved in this disruption," she said.

    Copyright of the image
    Reuters

    Legend

    British Airways planes were among those waiting on the tarmac

    The metropolitan police said they had received reports that a drone was observed near Heathrow around 17:05 GMT.

    Before confirming the resumption of flights, Transportation Secretary Chris Grayling said he was in contact with the airport about drone observation and had talked to the interior minister and the secretary of defense.

    BBC cameraman Martin Roberts said he was driving on the Meath Heathrow airport around 17:45 GMT when he saw what he thought was a drone.

    "I could see, I would say, about 300 feet tall, bright, fixed red and green fixed lights on the Harmondsworth area," he said.

    "I could say it was a drone – these things have very distinct lights – not a helicopter.

    "The lights were very close to each other – it was a very bright night and the object was still, it was spinning very very slightly, I could see it very clearly, I would say for about four to five minutes. "

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    Business as usual in Heathrow

    by Alice Evans, BBC London

    A few hours after the first report of a drone in the skies above Heathrow, everything was as usual in the departure lounge of Terminal 5. A low blow to Gatwick, a staff member said it was because "we are a good airport".

    Although the flights were restored fairly quickly, many passengers were again disturbed tonight.

    Catriona Walsh, who was flying from Basel, is one of those.

    Ms. Walsh, who worked for two days while she was on maternity leave, stated that she would not be going to her last stop in Wales until a few hours later, now that she had missed his train.

    His flight took place on the runway for about 50 minutes when the staff informed the passengers of the drone.

    "Everything was calm – frustrating rather than worrying," she said.

    Michael, a flight passenger who did not want to give his last name, was less optimistic.

    "I was afraid of having to camp here," he said.

    He added that the problems here and in Gatwick showed "exactly how to close a country – this country – down," adding that the police had to "just shoot drones" as soon as it was view.

    Passengers stranded at Heathrow expressed frustration at having to wait before leaving while the airport responded to the sighting.

    Jack Whittle, whose flight to Manchester was stuck on the ground, said the plane was "freezing" and "babies were screaming everywhere."

    "The elderly have blankets, but no one else," he told BBC News at the time.

    According to Simon Calder, a travel expert, temporary stopping of departures would have repercussions.

    "They will now be able to start escaping, but all that time, arrivals arrived and doors were not available, because the planes at the start did not leave, it will be messy for the rest of the evening, "he said. BBC.

    Mr. Calder stated that Heathrow had put in place measures to prevent this type of incident.

    "Heathrow told me that they had actually provided equipment and personnel to help their great rival Gatwick when the drone came out," he said.

    "Increased awareness"

    More than 140,000 passengers in Gatwick were hit during 36 hours of chaos between December 19 and 21.

    About 1,000 flights were canceled in three days due to drone observations.

    Gatwick said last week that he had spent £ 5 million to prevent future attacks. Heathrow has also confirmed that it would buy drone protection systems.

    And it was announced this week that the police would have new powers to fight against the illegal use of drones.

    John Grant, advisor to airline data specialists, specialist in air transport, told the BBC that it was "almost inevitable" after what happened in Gatwick, that "it was almost inevitable. there would be "heightened awareness and this type of incident could eventually recur".