BREAKING: Heathrow Closed Following Drone Sighting

All departures from Heathrow airport have been suspended following a drone being sighted. This news comes after days of disruption at Gatwick Airport in December. A Heathrow Spokesperson told Simple Flying “We are currently responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety. As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.” The airport’s northern runway is currently closed, while the southern runway is currently only accepting arrivals. Following the disruption at Gatwick, it was reported that both Heathrow and Gatwick had invested significantly in measures to stop future drone strikes.

Update: 18:22

It appears as though flights have begun departing from the northern runway again. FlightRadar24 shows AA107 has just taken off from the airport. Heathrow Airport is yet to officially confirm this.

Heathrow Drone
AA107 has departed Heathrow for JFK airport. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Update 19:22

Around an hour after the closure of the runway Heathrow tweeted that the runway was now reopened. However, The Met Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the drone attack. It is currently unclear whether the anti-drone equipment owned by the airport was deployed. Elsewhere, a BBC Cameraman told the BBC “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.”

New Police Powers

Today, before the incident at Heathrow, the British Government announced new measures to counter the illegal use of drones. Coming after an incident at Gatwick which saw the airport closed for over 24 hours, “New legislation will give police officers the power to land drones, search premises and seize drones”. Additionally, the perimeter surrounding an airport which is a no-fly zone for drones will be expanded.

From November 2019, those flying drones over 250g will be required to register with the government. This is similar to a system that currently exists in the United States. Drones are required to be labelled with a registration, meaning the owner can be tracked in the event of recovery of a drone. The Minister for Aviation, Liz Sugg said: “Along with additional safety measures these will help ensure the potential of this technology is harnessed in a responsible and safe way.”

If people fail to land a drone when instructed by police or fail to show their drone’s registration documents, they could be fined on the spot from November.

Were you affected by this latest incident? Let us know in the comments down below!

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