Monday 21 January 2019

UK airports 'must do more to tackle drones'

 

Departures from Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, were halted for an hour on Tuesday after a drone was sighted. Photo: PA
Departures from Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, were halted for an hour on Tuesday after a drone was sighted. Photo: PA

Dean Gray

Airport operators need to do more to counter the illegal use of drones after flights were disrupted at Heathrow and Gatwick, British prime minister Theresa May's de-facto deputy said.

Cabinet office minister David Lidington said the government would consider toughening laws that ban the use of drones near airports, but that operators could also invest more in protection systems.

Departures from Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, were halted for an hour on Tuesday after a drone was sighted, raising fears that operations could face the serious levels of disruption that hit London's Gatwick last month.

"The government is looking at the law to see whether there are ways in which it could be strengthened," Mr Lidington said.

"What I think the airports themselves have to do is step up and do more investment in technology to both detect and then stop drones from flying."

Gatwick Airport said it had upgraded its systems after it was targeted for three days in the run-up to Christmas.

"Several million pounds has been invested with the aim of ensuring the airport is equipped to the level provided by the armed forces during the recent illegal and unprecedented drone activity," a spokesman said.

"Safety remains our number one priority."

Irish Independent

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