Gatwick drone chaos: ‘Safety measures’ may not prevent further disruption

Armed police at Gatwick Airport SUS-181221-133817001
Armed police at Gatwick Airport SUS-181221-133817001

Police say that ‘a number of safety measures’ have led to the reopening of Gatwick Airport - but that they might not stop further disruption following yesterday’s drone chaos.

The airport reopened today after first being closed on Wednesday night after drones invaded Gatwick’s airspace.

Tens of thousands of people were stranded when all flights were cancelled after drones were first spotted in the area.

Police say that the introduction of new safety measures allowed them to reopen the airport this morning. Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said: “We are really pleased that the airport has re-opened. 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, and the fact the last confirmed sighting was before 10pm last night, is reassuring for passengers who have been disrupted by this criminal behaviour.

“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.

“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.

“Anyone with information about the incident or who may have suspicions about the drone operators is asked to report online or call 101 quoting Operation Trebor. If you see anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the airport, please dial 999 immediately.”