Heathrow and Gatwick airports to deploy anti-drone technology

7 January 2019 (Last Updated January 7th, 2019 12:25)

The UK's London Heathrow and Gatwick airports are set to implement military-grade anti-drone equipment to deal with illegal drone flights near airfields. 

Heathrow and Gatwick airports to deploy anti-drone technology
Heathrow and Gatwick airports plan to spend millions of pounds on anti-drone technology. Credit: Mitch Nielsen on Unsplash.

The UK’s London Heathrow and Gatwick airports are set to implement military-grade anti-drone equipment to deal with illegal drone flights near airfields.

The latest development follows a recent incident of drone sightings at Gatwick Airport that caused widespread disruption and led to the cancellation of approximately 1,000 flights.

Around 140,000 passengers were affected over the Christmas period.

Operations at Gatwick Airport resumed after the authorities deployed strong security measures in and around the site, assuring airlines and passengers that it was safe to restart operations.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Heathrow airport said: “The safety of our passengers and colleagues remains our top priority. Working closely with relevant authorities including the Met police, we are constantly looking at the best technologies that help remove the threat of drones.”

“We are constantly looking at the best technologies that help remove the threat of drones.”

The anti-drone technology is capable of detecting unmanned aerial systems after the armed forces recently withdrew their detection system from Heathrow Airport.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling met with police, aviation and defence chiefs to discuss future strategies for avoiding reoccurrence of such incidents near airports.

Next week, parliamentary undersecretary of state for transport Liz Sugg is expected to chair a meeting with the heads of the UK’s major airports to discuss the states of their own defences, along with their future plans.

The UK Government has already restricted drones from flying within a 1km radius of an airport. However, a law regarding drone registration and a mandatory online safety test will not come into force until November.

In July last year, Gatwick Airport witnessed a near-collision between a drone and a plane.