Heathrow Airport Halts Flights After Drone Sighting is Reported

Flights have resumed at Heathrow Airport after a brief suspension amid reports of a drone sighting.

All departures were stopped “as a precaution” shortly after 5pm, leaving passengers stranded on the runway just weeks after a similar debacle caused chaos at Gatwick.

Police were called just after 5pm to “reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport”.

But by 6.15pm, flights had resumed.

The incident comes just one day after the Government announced that police and airports will be given new powers to shoot down, catch and jam drones in a bid to prevent a repeat of the chaos that plagued Gatwick over the Christmas period.

Chris Grayling announced on Monday this week that he is seeking changes to the law which would allow officers to rapidly respond to and thwart drone attacks, including the ability to search premises of suspects and require users to produce documentation similar to a driver’s licence.

The Transport Secretary is also planning to expand the no-fly zones around airports and prisons, amid fears that drones are increasingly being used to deliver drugs and other prohibited items to inmates.

Ministers are now exploring the use of military grade jammers and blocking systems to bring down rogue drones, such as the Israeli Drone Dome system reported to have been deployed at Gatwick.

Many passengers took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to express disbelief that a suspected drone sighting had once again left them stranded, many stuck on the runway.

A Heathrow spokesman said: “We are currently responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety.

“As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologies to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Mr Grayling said: “We are in contact with Heathrow Airport concerning the drone sighting.

“I have already spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary.”

SOURCE: The Telegraph, by Victoria Ward and Jack Maidment