Gatwick Airport re-opened following 36 hours of disruption caused by multiple drone sightings in the vicinity of the UK’s second busiest airport. While the rouge drones and their pilots remained undiscovered, the airport was able to re-open thanks to the addition of extra anti-drone technology measures to counter the threat.
According to the British Airline Pilots Association, these measures are understood to be detection and tracking equipment that has been installed around the perimeter of Gatwick and the expectation is that if and when the drones reappear, they will be detected and the airport will close again
In a statement, the airport said: “We have been able to work with partners, including Government agencies and the Military to put measures in place which have provided the confidence we needed to re-open the runway and ensure the safety of passengers, which remains our priority. We continue to provide welfare and information to all disrupted passengers who are at the airport and have had teams in throughout the night.”
“We are really pleased that the airport has re-opened,” added Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry from Sussex Police. “The number of options now available to help us detect and mitigate the threat from the drone has given us increased confidence in keeping people safe. This has been a particularly challenging situation. We have looked at everything possible that we can deploy to mitigate this threat and we have a range of measures, of differing levels of sophistication, in place which puts us in a much better position. We are being supported by Surrey Police and Metropolitan Police, as well as the military. I cannot guarantee that another drone isn’t going to pop up and disrupt the airport. The situation is being kept under review but we are in a much more positive situation than yesterday. The runway is open and we hope to keep it that way.
“We are working very closely with Gatwick Airport Limited and the Civil Aviation Authority and are in close consultation with the government and other agencies in an effort to keep people safe,” he continued. “We have significantly increased our police presence to support the operation. We are now actively carrying out a criminal investigation and have a number of lines of enquiry. This has been a deliberate act to endanger the airfield and aircraft, a really serious offence that carries significant sentences, and we are doing all we can to find those responsible.”