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article imageAnother drone sighting causes disruption at UK's Heathrow airport

By Ken Hanly     Jan 8, 2019 in Travel
London - Just a couple of weeks after drone sightings caused the Gatwick airport in the UK to be shut down, Heathrow airport has now also had its flight schedule disrupted by drone sightings.
BBC report
Departures were temporarily stopped at Heathrow airport in London after a drone sighting was reported according to police. A spokesperson for Heathrow said the suspension of takeoffs was a precautionary measure to prevent any threat to operational safety.
This action follows the disruption last month at Gatwick Airport in which thousands of passengers were stranded after drones had been allegedly sighted. The Heathrow spokesperson said: "We continue to work closely with the Met Police to respond to reports of drones at Heathrow. Based on standard operating procedures, working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, we have resumed departures out of Heathrow following a short suspension. We continue to monitor this situation and apologise to any passengers that were affected by this disruption."
The Gatwick drone case
The drone sightings at Gatwick resulted in 36 hours of chaos stretching between December 19 and 21 just before Xmas. More than 140,000 passengers were affected at Gatwick during that time. About 1,000 flights were cancelled over the period because of the drone sightings.
Gatwick claimed last week that it had spent 5 million pounds to prevent future attacks. Heathrow also confirmed that they would buy new systems to counteract drones. It has also been announced that police will be given new powers to deal with the illegal use of drones.
BBC cameraman reported seeing the drone
Martin Roberts a BBC cameraman claimed he was driving on the M25 past the Heathrow airport at about 17:45 GMT when he saw what he believes was a drone. Roberts said:| "I could see, I'd say around 300 feet up, very bright, stationary flashing red and green lights, over the Harmondsworth area. I could tell it was a drone - these things have got quite distinctive lights - not a helicopter. The lights were very close together. It was a very clear night and the object was stationary, it was turning very, very slightly. I could see it very clearly, I'd say for about four to five minutes."
Travel expert Simon Calder
Calder claimed that the halting of departures would mean about 40 aircraft did not take off when they were scheduled to do so.
Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world. Calder said: "They will now be able to start getting away, but all that time you have had arrivals coming in and gates not being available because departing planes haven't gone. It's going to be messy for the rest of the evening. Heathrow told me that they had actually provided equipment and personnel to help their big rival Gatwick out during the drone event."
Sky News report
The Sky News report claims that only the northern runway was closed while the other one remained open. No doubt this allowed for arriving planes to land.
The report claims that Scotland Yard reported the sighting in the vicinity of the airport about 5:05 PM. No doubt this is local time. The Yard report said that officers at Heathrow were investigating along with colleagues at the airport.
The airport issued a tweet saying that it was working closely with Met Police to ensure there was no threat to operational safety. The tweet also apologised for any inconvenience caused to travellers. One traveller tweeted that he was on a plane waiting to take off and said that there was a police helicopter over the runway.
Under new rules drones will be required to stay even further away from airports. Heathrow is one of the world's busiest airports.
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