Drones are making a name for themselves right now as one floating over Gatwick airport in the UK has brought that airport’s traffic to standstill.
Police in Sussex received numerous reports of the device floating near the airport and authorities responded swiftly by shutting the airport down basically.
The shutdown began on Wednesday evening when two drones flew over the fence surrounding the airport and into the runway. Drones continued to make appearances throughout the day Wednesday and into today. There are more than 20 police units hunting for the pilot or pilots.
Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw commented, “Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears; when we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears.”
This impacts 110,000 passengers on 760 flights and couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Currently, this is the peak travel period for the Christmas holiday season. Police were apparently considering shooting the drone down but, instead, it remains there and the airport is shutdown as a consequence. If that’s not strange we don’t know what is. The police claim they don’t want to shoot down the drone because of the fear of hitting someone with a stray. Still, things seem murky as no one even knows what kind of drone it is that is causing the havoc.
Apparently the drone is making random, furtive appearances around the airport and no one knows exactly what its purpose is. To be completely safe, we can’t blame the officials for shutting the airport down, but this has caused stranded passengers to fill the terminals. Many are sleeping at the airport overnight, held on the promise that the airport may resume business in the morning. Gatwick chief exec Stewart Wingate said of the incident that there was no proof that it was terror related but, nonetheless, the effort is coordinated.
“It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way. This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again,” he told the BBC.
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed military deployment to the area: “The armed forces have a range of unique capabilities and this isn't something we would usually deploy but we are there to assist and do everything we can so that they are in a position to open the airport at the earliest opportunity.”
UK Treasury Secretary Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had this to say, “We'll do everything we can to ensure that if Gatwick is not open again quickly that we can get [passengers] away from other airports. …There's a huge amount of effort going on – we've got up-to-date technology, we've brought special technology into Gatwick to try and track this down.”