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Drone sighting near runway leads to flight delays and diversions at London Gatwick Airport

A drone in flight below a passenger airliner (...not at Gatwick)

Drones are becoming increasingly commonplace, and well-known brands are launching capable new models at ever-lower prices. For airport operators, airlines, and air passengers, this isn't necessarily a good thing.

As ITV News reports, numerous flights heading for London's Gatwick Airport yesterday had to be diverted after a drone was spotted flying close to its runway. Several easyJet flights were directed to fly instead to London Southend, and a British Airways jet en route from Valencia was diverted to Bournemouth.

A spokesperson for London Gatwick said that a 'handful' of flights had to be diverted to other airports, while several more were forced to delay or abandon their approaches to the runway. While the runway was later reopened, the alert resulted in delays to numerous flights. The spokesperson added that "the police continues to investigate" the incident.

Earlier this year, the UK Airprox Board published a report detailing an incident in which a passenger airliner almost collided with a drone in mid-air, 500 feet above a primary school in Birmingham, England. It was among 60 similar incidents reported in the UK last year.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority forbids flying drones at altitudes above 400 feet, or anywhere in close proximity to airports and airfields. National Air Traffic Services introduced a Drone Assist app last year to help drone operators steer clear of airports. Even so, incidents involving drones getting a bit too close to planes for comfort are continuing to occur.

Source: ITV News

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