Man and woman arrested over Gatwick Airport’s drone chaos


A plane about to take off at Gatwick Airport

Two persons have been arrested in connection with the “criminal use of drones” at London Gatwick Airport, police said Saturday.

According to Sky News, Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft offered a £10,000 reward for information that led to the arrest and charge of the drone operators.

The arrests  followed three days of disruption  at the airport, affecting  tens of thousands of passengers during the pre-Christmas getaway.

Drones were first sighted hovering around Britain’s second-busiest air hub on Wednesday, grinding the runway to a standstill and causing chaos for more than 120,000 people.

“As part of our ongoing investigations into the criminal use of drones which has severely disrupted flights in and out of Gatwick Airport, Sussex Police made two arrests just after 10:00pm (2200 GMT) on December 21,” the force’s Superintendent James Collis said.

“Every line of enquiry will remain open to us until we are confident that we have mitigated further threats to the safety of passengers.”

Police urged passengers and the public to remain vigilant around the airport, south of London, and report any further sightings.

Stranded passengers at Gatwick Airport

Flights resumed on Friday after a new drone sighting briefly forced planes to be grounded as a “precautionary measure”, a Gatwick spokesman said.

Sussex Police said officers had been using “a range of tactics” to hunt for the mystery drone operators and “build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions” from the device.

The dangers posed by drones include the possibility of a device smashing into a passenger plane or being sucked up into an engine where its highly flammable lithium battery could cause a catastrophe.

Passengers, many trying to get home for Christmas or to start their holidays, were advised to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport.

On Friday morning a Gatwick spokesman said 91 of the day’s 412 scheduled arrivals had been cancelled, while 64 of 371 scheduled departures had also been scrapped.

The army was called in on Thursday to offer support, with the defence ministry deploying what was described only as specialist equipment.

“There are a range of measures which are there today which should give passengers confidence that they are safe to fly,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC on Friday.

Government officials held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

There had been more than 50 sightings of the device or devices since the first reports at 9:00 pm (2100 GMT) on Wednesday and shooting down the drone had been considered as an option, said Jason Tingley of Sussex Police.

“We will do what we can to take that drone out of the sky and remove that disruption,” he said.

Justin Burtenshaw, head of armed policing for Sussex and Surrey said on Thursday: “Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears. When we look to reopen the airfield the drone reappears”.


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