Chaotic drone situation at LGW still baffling officials

Photo: J. Milstein/Gatwick Airport

In a series of incidents that may become the “new normal” in this age of unmanned aerial vehicles, London Gatwick Airport (LGW) has resumed operations following several alleged drone sightings that forced the airport to shut down for 36 hours, beginning on Dec. 19, disrupting 140,000 passengers and 1,000 flights.

However, despite reports from more than 60 eyewitness accounts of drone vehicles flying dangerously close to LGW’s runways, the leading detective in the investigation of the incident has now suggested that “there may not have been any genuine drone activity in the first place,” due to the fact that there is no video surveillance capturing the drones.

A damaged drone found near the airport would corroborate the eyewitness accounts, which police are currently investigating, but, at present, it is still unclear if the damaged drone in question is related to last week’s disruption.

Flights resumed on Friday with the arrival of the British Army, which was brought in to guard the perimeter of the airport, the same day that Sussex police arrested a British couple under suspicion of their involvement. However, the couple was released Sunday without charge.

While LGW is a passenger-focused airport, should a similar incident occur at a cargo hub, it could cost millions of dollars in airfreight delays and send ripples through the supply chain that would be felt by stakeholders around the world.

At present, neither the airport nor the police have indicated that there are any other serious suspects in their investigation. LGW is offering a £50,000 reward to anyone who has any information on the identities of the perpetrators.


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