Passengers who frequent London’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, will be throwing their arms up in rejoice, as the drone operator/s who shut it down for three days have been caught!
The raids took place early in the morning, as two suspects were arrested and their flat raided.
The airport has since reopened and Gatwick plans to be back to normal by next week.
What is the story so far?
If you have been up in the air for the last few days you might have missed that London’s Gatwick airport has been under siege.
For three days drones have been flying above the runway, blocking arriving and departing flights. Passengers have been forced to delay their travel plans, spending the days before Christmas in airport hotels (if they are lucky), terminals (if they couldn’t get anywhere to stay) or worse still, on the planes stuck taxing the airport.
But hope came in the form of military assistance, as special British military personnel was recruited to set up a defense net. Using snipers, radar jammers and their own drones, the military was able to track the drones back to their owners nearby.
Our runway is open. Passengers are advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport.
— Gatwick Airport LGW (@Gatwick_Airport) December 22, 2018
“Our investigations are still ongoing, and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones” – Superintendent James Collis
The military also installed top secret equipment to prevent drones from entering the airport airspace in the future, but they are not revealing what they have put in place.
Now it’s over to the police to investigate and bring the drone operators to justice.
What happens now?
The police currently have two suspects in custody and have raided their home seizing drone equipment. Naturally, as this is an ongoing investigation Simple Flying does not want to name the suspects until they are convicted. There has been some doubt if they are the culprits, but as soon as they were caught the drone flights stopped.
We can’t say for sure what the motivation has been to perform these crimes, whether it was simply a mistake or an active protest against the airport’s expansion, but we are sure it will be revealed in time.
What is the punishment for this crime?
This is a very interesting case, as it will be the first time a major airport has been shut down by drones, and the first time the law governing this crime will be implemented.
In the UK, the law is specific.
It is a criminal offense in the UK to endanger the safety of an aircraft — a charge that would carry up to a five-year prison sentence if convicted, according to the BBC. The UK also made it illegal to fly a drone within one kilometer (about 0.6 miles) of an airport or above 400 feet in the air. – The Points Guy
Essentially, the criminals will be facing two charges. One for endangering the safety of an aircraft and for flying a drone within the airport airspace. And because the act was intentional (over three days), over Christmas (during the busiest time of the year) and was performed despite the airport pleading for them to stop means that any judge will not be lenient.
I personally don’t have any sympathy for these criminals, and I fear that they will most likely be severely punished to prevent copycat activities in the future.
What do you think? How many years in prison should they get or just a fine?