Heathrow airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, has halted flights after a drone sighting.
An official said the airport was working with police to prevent any threat to operational safety.
London’s Heathrow Airport is the second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic, as well as the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, and the seventh busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic. It is one of six international airports serving Greater London.
In 2017, it handled a record 78.0 million passengers, a 3.1% increase from 2016.
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.
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) January 8, 2019
In December last year, hundreds of flights were cancelled at Gatwick Airport near London following reports of drone sightings close to the runway. The incident caused major travel disruption, affecting about 140,000 passengers and over 1,000 flights. It was the biggest disruption since ash from an Icelandic volcano shut the airport in 2010. On the 21st of December, Sussex Police arrested a drone enthusiast and his partner who lived near the airport, who were released without charge on the 23rd of December.
The RAF withdrew from Gatwick on the 3rd of January 2019 after Gatwick spent £5 million on a system to prevent attacks. During the crisis, it had been reported that the British Army had been deployed and would be using the Drone Dome – an Israeli-developed counter UAS system – at Gatwick, but the Ministry of Defence later confirmed that the RAF Regiment had been deployed and were using an alternative system as the Israeli one had not yet been delivered.
No departures at London Heathrow Airport amid reports of a drone sighting 😞 pic.twitter.com/vWYUNvgDLm
— Danny Lee (@JournoDannyAero) January 8, 2019
Security minister Ben Wallace recently announced that “The huge proliferation of such devices, coupled with the challenges of deploying military counter measures into a civilian environment, means there are no easy solutions… However, I can say that we are able to now deploy detection systems throughout the UK to combat this threat.”
More on this as it develops.