Drone Reports Temporarily Halt Flights From London's Heathrow

“We’re responding to some drone sighting at Heathrow,” the airport said. “As a preventative measure, we have stopped departures while we explore. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

London’s Metropolitan Police said that they had received reports of a drone near the airport at about 1705 GMT on Tuesday, they were investigating with airport police.

It said police officers were among those who reported visiting a drone and it had launched a full criminal investigation.

The airport affirmed about an hour later that take-offs had resumed. Flight tracker websites showed flights leaving from 1811 GMT.

A Reuters witness in a plane on the runway at Heathrow stated multiple aircraft were awaiting permission to take off before being later told what things were beginning to move.

London’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, was severely disrupted when drones were apprehended on three consecutive days in December, resulting in about 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted and affecting 140,000 passengers.

Gatwick’s drone nightmare – that the most tumultuous yet in a major airport – subjected a new vulnerability that will be scrutinised by security forces, airlines and airport operators across the world.

The British army was made to deploy military technology to guard the area around Gatwick, reassuring the airport it was secure enough to fly.

Authorities said they were carrying out extensive investigations round the Heathrow area to spot any people who may be responsible for the operation of the drone.

“We are deploying substantial resources – both regarding officers and equipment – to monitor the airspace about Heathrow and to quickly detect and disrupt any prohibited drone action; some of which can be as a consequence of learning by the events at Gatwick,” police commander Stuart Cundy said in a statement.

He said military assistance was implemented after the sighting but he would not give any further details as it might undermine the effectiveness of the measures.

British Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he had been in contact Heathrow Airport regarding the drone sighting.

“I’ve spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick in Heathrow quickly if it prove necessary,” he explained.

Both airports reacted to the Gatwick incident by ordering military-grade anti-drone technology.

Heathrow stated it was working closely with police including the police and looking at applicable technology to combat the threat of drones.

The airport managed 78 million passengers in 2017 and is the principal hub for British Airways. Its busiest routes in terms of passenger numbers are to Dubai and New York-JFK.