United Kingdom expands drone exclusion airport zones after Gatwick disruption

UK expands drone exclusion airport zones after Gatwick disruption

Flight departures have been suspended at London's Heathrow Airport following reports of a drone sighting.

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

It added it first received the reports at about 5:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Ministers are now exploring the use of military grade jammers and blocking systems to bring down rogue drones, such as the Israeli Drone Dome system reported to have been deployed at Gatwick.

"We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow", the airport said. "We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause".

Mr Grayling said: "We are in contact with Heathrow Airport concerning the drone sighting".

A spokesperson for London's Metropolitan Police said they were called just after 5pm to "reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport".

Britain's parliament finally approved the expansion of Heathrow a year ago after decades of delays, although the runway is not expected to be operational until 2026. More than 140,000 passengers had their flights disrupted and more than 1,000 flights were affected between December 19th and December 21st 2019.

Following the end to the initial drone-related disturbance at Gatwick, Security Minister Ben Wallace said: "I can say that we are able to now deploy detection systems throughout the United Kingdom to combat this threat".

The Transport Secretary is also planning to expand the no-fly zones around airports and prisons, amid fears that drones are increasingly being used to deliver drugs and other prohibited items to inmates.

Fines of up to £100 could be issued for offences such as failing to comply with a police officer when instructed to land a drone, or not showing their registration to operate a drone.

Airport exclusion zones will be extended to about 5km (three miles) from the current 1km, with additional extensions at runway ends.

The Home Office will also begin to test and evaluate the safe use of a range of counter-drone technology in the UK.

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