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Drone sighting halts flights at London Gatwick

A British Airways Airbus at London Gatwick Airport

A British Airways Airbus at London Gatwick Airport

A sighting of an object suspected to be a drone has once again caused flight operations at London Gatwick (LGW./EGKK) to be suspended.

The sighting occurred just before 2pm and caused at least 12 flights to be diverted to nearby airports whilst the situation was investigated.

Flights resumed at the West Sussex airport around an hour later and no confirmation was obtained as to whether a drone had actually flown in the vicinity of the airport.

A spokesperson for London Gatwick Airport said: “Passenger safety is the airport’s absolute priority and – following established procedures – operations at London Gatwick were suspended temporarily at 13:44 [Local Time], while investigations into the sighting of a suspected drone close to the airfield took place. 

“These investigations have now completed and the airfield reopened at 14:35.”

This kind of event is not uncommon at London Gatwick which closed for over 24 hours in 2018 after sustained and repeated sightings of drones occurred in what as called an “attack” on the airport.

No one was ever convicted of the drone attack which many suspected was linked to an extremist environmental group called Extinction Rebellion.

It is illegal to fly a drone of any size within 2.5 miles of a licensed airfield or airport. The area is known as a Flight Restriction Zone (FRZ) and most consumer and professional drones will not allow you to fly there without obtaining permission.

Toy drones however do not have the same levels of protection making it easy for someone to deliberately, or accidentally fly in a FRZ.

All drones in the UK with a camera, even toys, must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) through its Drone and Model Aircraft Registration Scheme (DMARES) and operators must abide by the Drone Code.

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