Published: Tue, January 08, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

Departures halted at London's Heathrow Airport due to drone sighting

Departures halted at London's Heathrow Airport due to drone sighting

Flight departures have been suspended at London's Heathrow Airport following reports of a drone sighting.

Gatwick and Heathrow officials have pledge to invest in anti-drone technology, with United Kingdom transport secretary Chris Grayling saying to Parliament on Monday to extend drone exclusion zones near United Kingdom airports. The airport in West London is the businest in the United Kingdom, as well as being the second businest airport in the world in terms of worldwide passenger traffic.

"We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety", the airport's Twitter account said.

"As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate", it said. "We apologies to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause".

One traveller, Simon, tweeted that he was on a plane waiting to take off and there was a "police helicopter over the runway".

She said: "As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate".

It comes after last month's disruption at Gatwick Airport after drones were reported. About 1,000 flights were cancelled or diverted, affecting 140,000 passengers.

He also told Parliament the police will be given new powers to deal with drone pilots who break the law.

"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".

Fines of up to £100 could be issued for offences such as failing to comply with a police officer when instructed to land a drone, or not showing their registration to operate a drone.

The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately a three-mile radius, with extensions from runway ends.

The Home Office will also begin to test and evaluate the safe use of a range of counter-drone technology in the UK.

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