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In a repeat of the holiday scare that paralyzed air traffic at Gatwick, Heathrow airport outside of London was similarly brought to standstill by sightings of an alleged drone in the area of the airport.
Heathrow posted to its Twitter account the following message: “We are 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.”
According to FStoppers, Scotland Yard “received reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity of Heathrow airport” and launched an investigation immediately.
UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the government was ready to deploy resources similar to those used at Gatwick should the Heathrow situation merit it.
New rules grant extensive powers to local authorities in the United Kingdom to disable drones that invade the airspace in and around airports. There will now be a 3 kilometer exclusion zone for UAVs around airports in the United Kingdom. Pilots that violate these limits could face jail time according to Sky News. Pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles between 250g and 20kg in weight will have to undergo testing and registration in the UK. We reported on this last year and it is a long expected development.
Speaking about how the situation at Gatwick was handled, Transport Secretary Grayling said, “I am clear the government is taking action to ensure that passengers have confidence their journeys will not be disrupted in future, aircraft can safely use our key transport hubs and criminals misusing drones can be brought to justice.”
These recent events will probably only speed up the efforts on the part of local governments around the world to regulate and control UAVs. Of course, we’ll bring you the latest developments as they happen.