UK lawmakers demand answers after drones delay three days of flights

World Today

UK lawmakers demand answers after drones delay three days of flights

Lawmakers in the U.K. are scrutinizing airport security after chaos caused by drones at London’s Gatwick airport. The drone scare disrupted roughly 140 thousand people’s travels over a three day period last week.

CGTN’s Natalie Powell reports.

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Scenes of chaos at the United Kingdom’s second busiest airport when flights were suspended for more than 36 hours last week, due to drone sightings close to Gatwick’s runway.

Flights only resumed once the army had been deployed using unidentified military technology.

The U.K. said the incident was a deliberate act of sabotage.

“Those who are caught endangering aircraft can face up to five years in prison,” Prime Minister Theresa May said. “And that’s legislation that we’ve already introduced, and actually we’re consulting on further aspects of this, including further police powers.”

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, however, believed the chaos caused by these drones should act as a ‘wake up call’ to the U.K., and this incident has highlighted the real threat drones pose to airports and infrastructure.

Some companies are already developing technology to counter these threats.

A firm in the Netherlands, supported by the Dutch Military Police, has created the DroneCatcher to safely remove illicit drones from the air.

“There is a high risk close to airports, but also when there is a big thing going on,” said Arnout De Jong, the CEO of Delft Dynamics. “You want to have systems capable of countering drones, could be a terrorist, you don’t know what its intentions are.”

It appears catching the perpetrators of the Gatwick incident is proving difficult.

Two people arrested have since been released without charge, while the investigating police force has been criticized for not handling their communication response well.

There were also some doubts over whether there had been genuine drone activity, as police do not have footage of any drones near the airport, but this has since been quashed by police who say they’ve had 67 reports of sightings.

Gatwick airport has offered a $60,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible for disrupting flights.