Flights grounded at Heathrow airport after drone sighting

Flights grounded at Heathrow airport after drone sighting

Heathrow Airport has confirmed that it has grounded all departing flights while it investigates the situation.

"As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate", it said.

Those measures came in response to earlier drone sightings that shut down Gatwick airport in the days before Christmas, causing disruption for more than 120,000 passengers.

The Metropolitan Police said they received reports of a drone sighting near Heathrow at about 17:05 GMT (6.05am NZDT).

Heathrow Airport is at a standstill on Tuesday night after a reported drone sighting.

London Heathrow is Europe's busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers.

Meanwhile, UK government introduced new police powers against drones flown near airports this week.

Heathrow wants thousands more flights to be in operation before the runway opens, which would require an easing of the current cap of 480,000 annual journeys - imposed as a condition of Terminal 5 opening.

A Reuters witness in a plane on the runway at Heathrow said multiple aircraft were waiting for permission to take off before being later told that things were starting to move.

A statement by British Transport Secretary Chris Grayling indicated that anti-drone equipment had not yet been put in place at Heathrow.

More than 140,000 passengers at Gatwick were affected during 36 hours of chaos between 19 and 21 December.

The anti-drone equipment can detect and jam communications between a drone and its operator and was deployed on a roof at Gatwick.

"This second drone incident in less than a month has shown how important it is that airports invest in drone protection technology immediately", Mr Strutton said.

The person or persons responsible for the Gatwick drones have not been located and no group has claimed responsibility. This is to be combined with the ability to issue up to £100 fixed penalty notices on the spot to anyone seen operating a flying toy in a rogue-like fashion, and an extension of exclusion zones around runway ends at airports.

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