‘Don’t come to Gatwick TOMORROW’: Drone chaos spreads into third day

‘Don’t come to Gatwick TOMORROW’: Airport drone chaos spreads into busiest travel day of the year with airport chiefs cancelling all flights ‘for the foreseeable future’ as hunt for pilot bringing misery to tens of thousands of festive fliers continues

  • Gatwick has tonight told air passengers to avoid the airport ‘for the forseeable future including tomorrow’  
  • All 760 flights to and from Gatwick were cancelled on Thursday leaving 110,000 furious passengers stranded
  • Police hunted for the drone pilot to no avail today as Army snipers stood ready to shoot the unmanned aircraft
  • The drone – spotted again at 4pm – is part of a ‘highly targeted’ attack to bring disruption, the airport believes 
  • Chaos began at 9pm yesterday with flight ban in place due to at least ten incursions over the main runway 
  • A large drone could bring down a passenger jet if it was sucked into jet engine or smashed hole in aircraft 
  • ** Caught up in the Gatwick chaos? Please email: [email protected] and [email protected] 
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Gatwick Airport has told passengers not to come to the airport tomorrow as the drone drama enters a third day, plunging tens of thousands of people into chaos on the busiest day of travel before Christmas. 

The airport remained shut today as the unmanned aircraft was spotted again over the runway, prompting a game of cat-and-mouse with police before the Army was called in this afternoon. 

Armed officers carrying Heckler & Koch sniper rifles have been dotted along the runway ready to shoot down the drone but the rogue pilot who has left 110,000 people stranded remained at large tonight. 

Tonight a Gatwick spokesperson said passengers should not come to the airport ‘for the foreseeable future including tomorrow’ when even more holidaymakers have travel plans.  

Today 760 flights were grounded over fears the drone could take down a passenger jet with Gatwick’s runway set to be closed until the manhunt ends. 

Some passengers stranded at Gatwick – the UK’s second-busiest airport – are anticipating spending the night in the terminal after hotels in the area become fully booked.  

Earlier footage obtained by MailOnline showed the drone flying past Gatwick’s north terminal and over the runway before it dives away and lands to the east of the airport after being chased by a police helicopter. 

The drone flights are ‘highly targeted’ and have ‘been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas’, the airport said.   

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    This is the first picture of the drone causing chaos at Gatwick was last seen at 3pm today (circled) – just after Gatwick announced they hoped to re-open at 4pm


    The industrial drone has been spotted more than a dozen times and the Army could now be sent in to destroy it


    Police marksmen armed with Heckler & Koch HK417 sniper rifles have been stationed on the perimeter of Gatwick and along its runway (pictured) as they prepare to shoot down a drone that have shut down the airport


    The drone has buzzed across Gatwick’s runway more than ten times since 9pm last night but police claim every time they get close to it it ‘disappears’


    People are growing increasingly frustrated as they sit trapped at the airport where the drone has grounded planes after chaos began at 9.03pm last night 


    This is the scene at Gatwick today where tens of thousands face doubts they will get away for Christmas as a result of the drone chaos

    Gatwick Airport has told passengers not to come to the airport tomorrow as the drone drama enters a third day, plunging tens of thousands of people into chaos on the busiest day of travel before Christmas.

    The airport remained shut today as the unmanned aircraft was spotted again over the runway, prompting a game of cat-and-mouse with police before the Army was called in this afternoon.

    Armed officers carrying Heckler & Koch sniper rifles have been dotted along the runway ready to shoot down the drone but the rogue pilot who has left 110,000 people stranded remained at large tonight.

    Tonight a Gatwick spokesperson said passengers should not come to the airport ‘for the foreseeable future including tomorrow’ when even more holidaymakers have travel plans.

    Today 760 flights were grounded over fears the drone could take down a passenger jet with Gatwick’s runway set to be closed until the manhunt ends.

    • ‘Our Christmas plans have been ruined by a rogue drone’:… Air traffic chiefs blast soft sentences for drone maniacs… Police storm TUI plane diverted from Gatwick and grounded… Is it time for Britain to get anti-drone technology? Gatwick… Britain faces the worst Christmas travel chaos for years as… Christmas chaos on the rails: Network Rail admits FIVE…
    • Pilots blame ‘bad signage’ after plane with 270 passengers…

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    Some passengers stranded at Gatwick – the UK’s second-busiest airport – are anticipating spending the night in the terminal after hotels in the area become fully booked.

    Earlier footage obtained by MailOnline showed the drone flying past Gatwick’s north terminal and over the runway before it dives away and lands to the east of the airport after being chased by a police helicopter.

    The drone flights are ‘highly targeted’ and have ‘been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas’, the airport said.

    Tonight Ryanair said Friday’s scheduled flights from Gatwick would instead depart from London Stansted, more than 50 miles away.

    Passengers already stranded are struggling to get a new flight before Christmas Eve or have had to cancel their trips completely.    


    Gatwick is ‘full to capacity’ with no flights coming in or out on one of the busiest days of the year at UK airports with 110,000 expected there today alone


    A group of youngsters watch something on their phones as one young man gets some sleep as up to 760 flights were suspended today


    Police are pictured at Gatwick’s police station roof today as they use equipment in the ongoing task to stop the drone unleashing chaos in Sussex 

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      One woman gets some sleep on the Gatwick floor using her suitcase a makeshift pillow today after the suspension of all flights in and out




      Parent Ani Kochiashvili photographs her baby and a toddler as they get some sleep on the chairs in Gatwick while passengers on a Norwegian Air flight diverted to Paris Orly get from fresh air as they are stranded on the Tarmac


      These poor passengers were diverted to Birmingham after struggling to land at Gatwick and were forced to sleep on board




      One passenger stranded on the Tarmac at Gatwick filmed what he claimed was the drone flying overhead (left), although others have suggested it could be too large. A police helicopter is pictured, right, as police tried to track the drone today


      Planes have been diverted to as far away as Bordeaux, Paris, Amsterdam and Shannon as well as the majority of airports in the UK

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            Timeline: How dangerous drone pilot managed to shut down Gatwick

            Police are hunting for the expert drone pilot who has grounded hundreds of planes coming in and out of Gatwick by flying a drone at least ten time 

            Here is how the chaos has unfolded:

            9pm, December 19: Drone is first spotted by airport staff hovering near the runway causing flights to be grounded or diverted.

            9.15pm: It appears again leading Gatwick bosses to believe it is a deliberate act.

            9.30pm – midnight: The drone is seen at least five more times in that period

            3.01am, December 20: Airport re-opens its runway after the all clear is given

            3.45am: Drone is seen again and flights are again grounded

            7am: Small unmanned aircraft appears again

            9am: Last sighting of the drone as police start hunting perimeter of the airport 

            Midday: Police are unable find the drone pilot despite it appearing again at lunchtime with Gatwick saying all flights are grounded until at least 4pm

            2pm: Airport admits it has ‘no idea’ when it will re-open as police struggle to find the pilot 

            3pm: The drone is spotted again as it buzzes across Gatwick’s runway. It was just minutes after airport bosses announced they had hoped to re-open at 4pm.

            4pm: Drone spotted flying over the runway yet again. 

            5pm: Ministry of Defence confirms that it is using specialist equipment to seek out the drone 

            8pm: Gatwick tells passengers not to come to the airport on Friday 

            At the airport’s two terminals tens of thousands of people have been stranded and forced to sleep on floors as up to 760 flights face cancellation, including several meant to fly children to meet Santa in Lapland.

            One couple due to be married on Saturday are facing an anxious wait to discover if they can reach Marrakech in time for the ceremony.

            Many more have said their dream trips around the world to see family and friends for Christmas are now in ruins.

            Thousands including young children were to sleep on floors or chairs as all flight departures were grounded.

            The airport said additional staff will be on the ground during the night to patrol for vulnerable passengers, including those with young children and the elderly.

            Water is being handed out throughout the terminals, the airport said, and food and beverage outlets are being stocked up with fresh supplies, with heating remaining turned on throughout the night.

            As officers hunted for the drone police described the devices as ‘industrial’ models and are treating the incident as ‘a deliberate act to disrupt the airport’.

            The Ministry of Defence confirmed this afternoon that it has deployed ‘specialist equipment’ to deal with the situation after police requested help.

            Officers requested soldiers to test the Army’s new weapon – known as a ‘Drone Dome’ or ‘kill-jammer’ – which can ‘soft kill’ a drone by knocking out its communications or a ‘hard kill’ by shooting it down with a laser from up to two miles away. The MoD has not confirmed what it meant by ‘specialist equipment’.

            The shutdown at Gatwick today has renewed calls for the use of anti-drone technology at British airports including frequency jammers and early warning systems now common near U.S. runways.

            According to the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), there were 117 near misses between manned aircraft and drones up until November this year, compared to 93 for the whole of 2017 – a rise of 58 per cent. 

            A police helicopter and dozens of officers on the ground scanned a five-mile zone around Gatwick in an unsuccessful attempt to find and arrest the suspect, who faces up to five years in jail.  

            Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s CEO, said it ‘cannot be right’ that a major international airport could be targeted in this way.  

            He said: ‘On behalf of everyone at Gatwick I would like to repeat how sorry we are for the inconvenience this criminal behaviour has caused passengers and we share their real anger and frustration that it has happened.

            ‘This is a highly targeted activity which has been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run-up to Christmas.

            ‘Although not for today, these events obviously highlight a wider strategic challenge for aviation in this country which we need to address together with speed – the aviation industry, government and all the other relevant authorities. 


            All of the hundreds of planes currently at Gatwick are grounded (pictured today) with hundreds more diverted to other UK and European airports


            Police watchers are on the roof of the Gatwick police station but are struggling to find the person causing chaos with a drone


            Christmas may be cancelled for some of the poor passengers whose trips abroad to see friends and family are now in tatters


            The tens of thousands stuck in Gatwick’s two terminals have been forced to sit and wait as police tried and failed to find the pilot


            A young woman has her head in her hands as she and 100,000 others face disruption because of the drone chaos


            This is the moment police boarded a flight at Stansted Airport after irate passengers flying home from Cape Verde were diverted  away from Gatwick


            Ground vehicles are shown here scouring the perimeter of the airport looking for its rogue pilot today


            There have been several potential sightings of the drone – but police claim that every time they get close it disappears




            Gatwick Airport confirmed they suspended flight operations after at least one drone was seen in the area surrounding the aerodrome. They said it was necessary to take this action for safety reasons 


            Eddie Boyes says an offer of a hotel was later rescinded as chaos at Gatwick took over overnight because of cancellations




            One pilot expressed his frustration on Instagram posting a picture from the flight deck as planes were stuck on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport while in the terminal a stranded passenger gets some rest while sat in a trolley


            Queues for check in are snaking through the terminal into the arrivals area, which has had no flights landing since 9pm yesterday


            People are sleeping wherever they can find space with many explaining there are no hotel rooms available in the area around Britain’s second busiest airport


            Planes have been cancelled, diverted and delayed as Gatwick remained on complete lockdown today


            A three-year-old little boy catches up on some sleep on the seats in Gatwick as tens of thousands were stranded there, across the UK and abroad


            On one of the busiest travelling days of the year queues snaked through Gatwick South as people tried to check in for flights that were going nowhere


            The deserted runway at Gatwick where hundreds of planes were unable to take off or land since 9pm last night

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              Is it time for Britain to get anti-drone technology? Gatwick mayhem will renew calls for UK airports to have US defence system that downs unmanned aircraft with menacing radio waves

              Calls for tougher anti-drone detection systems at UK airports that can spot devices up to five miles away within three seconds will be renewed today, following the suspension of flights at Gatwick Airport.

              US airports use jammers to block the frequencies used to control drones, making them stop working if they are anywhere near a commercial or military runway. 


              A drone flies in the air, with a British Airways aircraft pictured to the rear in February 2017

              They also have ‘early warning’ systems to tell air traffic control if a drone is approaching – but these are not in place at UK airports.

              According to the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), there were 117 near misses between manned aircraft and drones up until November this year, compared to 93 for the whole of 2017 – a rise of 58 per cent.

              Experts believe a large drone could take down a passenger jet because it could shred an engine if it was sucked in or destroy its windscreen or windows, causing a sudden drop in cabin pressure.

              Strong sales of small consumer drones – especially in the run up to Christmas each year – have led to repeated warnings about a possible threat to scheduled flights, which have become a reality just five days before December 25.

              The Civil Aviation Authority has estimated that 1.5million drones were bought in Britain last Christmas, with 63 per cent of these purchased as a gift.

              More expensive commercial drones can be flown from up to five miles away or even remotely using GPS programming.

              Earlier this year, new laws came into force which ban all drones from flying above 400ft and within 1km (0.6 miles) of airport boundaries. Drone users who flout the restrictions could face an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both. 

              With pressure increasing to find the perpetrator, Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw, the airport’s policing commander, said: ‘Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears; when we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears. I’m absolutely convinced it’s a deliberate act to disrupt Gatwick Airport’.

              Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘This is clearly a very serious ongoing incident in which substantial drones have been used to bring about the temporary closure of a major international airport.

              ‘The people who were involved should face the maximum possible custodial sentence for the damage they have done.

              ‘Government is doing everything it can to support Sussex police.’

              This evening he told Sky News: ‘We’re doing everything we can to make arrangements with other airports to get passengers incoming into the UK, but also to give passengers a chance to get out of the UK as quickly as possible.

              ‘One of the things we’re going to be doing is temporarily lifting the night-flight restrictions at other airports so more planes can get into and out of the country.

              ‘Apologies for the residents affected, but it’s right and proper that we try and sort people’s Christmases out.

              ‘It’s likely to be other London airports but it will only be tonight. We will review the situation again tomorrow but we’re looking to get people away.’

              In the chaos British Airways staff have been handing out food and drink to passengers stricken at Gatwick.

              The airline has given them 22,000 bottles of water, 4,000 cans of soft drinks, 1,000 slices of cake, 3,000 biscuits, 3,600 packets of crackers and 1,800 packets of crisps

              BA staff bussed in from Heathrow to help and hotel rooms have been given to passengers who are stuck. The airline said all customers can claim back meals, and taxis if they keep receipts.  

              Detectives are investigating if the drone chaos is a stunt by a lone wolf pilot or part of a wider plot by activists who want to disrupt flights for environmental or political reasons – but police have initially ruled out a terror attack.  

              At 4.30pm British Airways announced that all of its flights will remain cancelled at Gatwick until 7pm and at 5.30pm easyJet said all its flights to and from the site for the rest of the day were cancelled.

              Gatwick’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, confirmed a recent drone sighting and said disruption would continue for several days.

              He told BBC News: ‘There are 110,000 passengers due to fly today, and the vast majority of those will see cancellations and disruption.

              ‘We have had within the last hour another drone sighting so at this stage we are not open and I cannot tell you what time we will open.

              ‘It was on the airport, seen by the police and corroborated. So having seen that drone that close to the runway it was unsafe to reopen.

              ‘Realistically if we do reopen today, what the airlines will seek to do is deal with the passengers who are on site and to prepare for an operation tomorrow morning where we repatriate passengers who are in the wrong place. ‘It’s realistically going to take several days to recover.’

              He added: ‘I’m absolutely certain this is a deliberate act. There is a drone on my airfield as we speak.’ 

              The founder of US firm Airspace, Jaz Banga, has told Sky News that it could take up to two days to locate the drones.  


              Gatwick has said that its terminals are now full and urged anyone with a flight booked to check with their airlines before travelling there






              Passengers have been forced to sit and wait as Gatwick remained shut down today as the Christmas getaway started


              Statement: Gatwick posted a message on Twitter urging passengers to check with their airline before travelling to the airport on Thursday amid fears the knock-on effects of the drone chaos would last well into the day 

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                Were drones built by someone who planned to disrupt? Top expert says specialist equipment would have been needed

                The drone used over London Gatwick Airport were potentially built by someone who planned to cause disruption, a top expert said today.

                Samuel Luff, who has been flying drones for five years, said he believes the operator could have been manning the drone from up to five miles away.

                Mr Luff, who runs Apollo Drone Services in Redhill, Surrey, also pointed out that it was raining at the time the drone was first sighted – giving further evidence that the device is specialised enough to work in wet conditions.

                By SAMUEL LUFF, Apollo Drone Services


                As a licensed and insured drone operator and a drone pilot for close to five years, I am actually amazed that it is only now in 2018 that we are seeing a serious threat at Gatwick Airport. 

                I have had many conversations with my clients over the years about just how destructive the technology could be in the wrong hands, and in my opinion this is what we are seeing this morning. 

                From the video that I have watched it is clear to me that the drones we are seeing are not of standard specification and have potentially been built for the purpose to disrupt. 

                Here’s the thing – the largest seller of drones, DJI, all have built in systems that prevent the operator from flying close to airports, to stop things like this happening. 

                Someone here has not only got close to the airport but has been seen over the runway itself. 

                This is not someone making a foolish mistake, this is someone who has planned this and built or modified a drone that can get this close to a runway. 

                It is also worth pointing out that at 9pm (the approximate time they were seen) it was raining. 

                Again, this points to something that is much more specialist, and Gatwick Airport has stated that ‘one of the drones is a heavy, industrial type’.

                It is entirely possible these people were operating the drone from up to five miles away which will make it very hard to track them down. Drones are too small to be picked up by a radar as well so they can go relatively unnoticed.

                What I would like to see here is the Civil Aviation Authority and the police make it very clear to people that breaking drone rules will have serious consequences. 

                There are thousands of videos online of people flying drones over crowds of people and through city centres. Very rarely do these people get prosecuted and it leads to things like this which damages our industry. 

                I have seen instances where unlicensed pilots know full well they are breaking the rules but do so anyway because they know that the police simply do not have the time to deal with them.

                Drones are used for good all across the UK by sensible, qualified operators and it’s moments like this that further add to the public’s perception that all drones are bad. 

                Until someone is made an example of then I fully understand their concerns.

                Visit Mr Luff’s Twitter page here – or view the Apollo Drone Services website

                Planes due to fly in to Gatwick were diverted to European airports including Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux and Shannon as well as UK airports, where some stranded passengers slept on their planes because of a lack of hotel rooms.

                Aviation chiefs warned every UK airport in the south-east of England was full to capacity as a result of the shutdown with knock-on effects expected throughout the region.

                Other flights are believed to have landed in Manchester, Cardiff, Luton and Paris, while one Norwegian Air flight from JFK diverted to Liverpool having circled Bristol while awaiting an update.

                In Europe some passengers were kept waiting in transit areas at other airports as they waited for a flight to the UK. 

                Joseph Ouechen, a photographer from Morocco, was due to fly into Gatwick on Wednesday night but had his flight diverted to Paris.

                After arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport at midnight, passengers with visas for the Schengen area were taken to a hotel but those without – ‘about 20 per cent’ – were left in the airport to fend for themselves, he said. 

                Firefighters eventually crossed the border through passport control with blankets and water at 3.30am, he said. 

                One passenger flying from Cape Verde to Gatwick became so irate about being diverted to Stansted last night he allegedly opened the door while a fellow traveller then claimed he was a terrorist so he could get off, leading to police being sent on board.

                Eddie Boyes, who was caught in the chaos, said today: ‘We were offered a hotel only for that to be rescinded shortly afterwards. People sleeping on floor in south terminal, utter shambles’.

                A mother said she has suffered an ’emotional disaster’ after spending the night on a cold floor with her eight-year-old-daughter and three-year-old son.

                Yulia Hristova, who was meant to fly to Istanbul via Kiev at 3am and has been at the airport since midnight, said: ‘With two kids I’m in a difficult position, I’m so tired, I’m so upset, we’ve had no information.

                ‘We were standing for hours, nobody’s been on the desk. It was so cold. We were sleeping on the floor, me and my children. I lost my son during the night, and a policeman brought him back.

                ‘I was meant to be reunited with my family, my kids were so excited they didn’t sleep until 6am, they were waiting to get on the plane.

                ‘It’s been an emotional disaster.

                ‘I’m so exhausted, I don’t want to stress out but it’s very worrying. What’s going to happen to us in Ukraine? What if we run out of money? Are the airline going to put us in a hotel?

                ‘I want to give up right now, it’s making me so anxious.’

                Dozens of people were perched on seats with jackets and coats used as makeshift blankets after being stranded in the airport overnight.

                In a further blow to passengers today the Civil Aviation Authority declared the drone mayhem to be an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ meaning airlines would not have to pay compensation, as it was out of their control.

                Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said the Government was considering extending police powers to prevent drones causing airport disruption in the future.

                She told BBC News: ‘I think it’s important to be clear this is a crime, this drone is being flown illegally.

                ‘Earlier this year we changed the law to make it illegal to fly within a kilometre of an airport and I know that police are out and trying to bring the drone down as quickly as possible.

                ‘This is an illegal act. We are also looking to extend police powers and early in the new year we’ll be looking at our next steps on that.

                ‘The other thing we’re looking at is counter-drone technology. Technology in this area is obviously moving incredibly quickly, but we need to make sure we’re able to stop such activity in future.’

                Baroness Sugg said authorities were hoping to get Gatwick open as quickly as possible as people travel for the Christmas break.

                She added: ‘Our priority is to get that airport open as safely as possible so that people can fly off on their Christmas breaks, or people who are coming in to visit friends and family.

                ‘The police are working to bring the drone down, and I am confident that they will do so. ‘ 


                The drama overnight was played out on social media with people posting their stories on Instagram and Snapchat




                After more than four-and-a-half hours on the tarmac at Gatwick, passengers on an China Airways flight received an in-flight meal at 2am today as they awaited permission to taxi to the runway and take off while passengers on another diverted flight were made to wait in Paris today (right)



                Planes were stranded side-by-side on runways across Europe. These aircraft are pictured at Birmingham after the flight from Belfast was diverted in the chaos 

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                  Flights were grounded as a drone was spotted flying at Gatwick (pictured), shutting down the runway from 9pm last night until 3am this morning. It was only open for 45 minutes before airport officials reinstated the departure ban again at 3.45am (pictured)


                  This map shows how planes from all over the UK and Europe were diverted as the drone started flying near the Gatwick runway 


                  The chaos is set to spill over this morning as airport security were deployed at the scene last night as flights were downed at Gatwick 

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                      What is the law on drones? Who can buy them and how flying too close to an airport can land you five years in prison 

                      The major flight disruption at London Gatwick today comes just five months after new laws banned drones from flying too close to airports.

                      Legislation implemented in July means people in Britain are now banned from flying the devices above 400ft and within 1km (0.6 miles) of airport boundaries.

                      Drone users who flout the height and airport boundary restrictions could face an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

                      Laws introduced to the Commons in May mean people flying drones which weigh 250g or more will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

                      Drone pilots will be required to take an online safety test under the new legislation, with the requirements set to come into force in November next year.

                      Research has found a drone weighing 400g (14oz) could smash a helicopter windscreen, and one at 2kg (4lbs) could critically damage an airliner’s windscreen. 

                      In July, the DfT said it was considering introducing an age restriction, banning children from owning drones weighing at least 250g.

                      It also said it was considering giving police the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £300 for misuse and the ability to seize drones being used irresponsibly.  

                      There have already been 117 near misses between manned aircraft and drones up until November this year, compared to 93 for the whole of 2017.  

                      Many passengers faced hours-long coach journeys to reach their final destination after the flight ban was reimposed by airport officials at 3.45am today.  

                      Railways have also offered help, with tickets to Gatwick on Southern services today being accepted tomorrow and East Coast services offering free services to passengers with plane tickets to Edinburgh.

                      The runway briefly reopened at 3am but another drone sighting forced its closure later on Thursday morning.

                      As the misery mounted there was a brief alarm at Heathrow as an IT system crashed, bringing chaos to baggage and check-in, but the issue was quickly resolved on Thursday evening.  

                      One easyJet passenger on a flight from from Rome required medical attention after his flight was diverted to Stansted.    

                      Bride-to-be Tayo Abraham and her partner Ope Odedine were due to fly to Marrakesh in Morocco on Wednesday alongside nine family and friends. 

                      The group boarded the Air Arabia flight, due to depart at 8.40pm, and were kept onboard ‘in the dark’ until 2am.

                      Miss Abraham, 31, a contractor from Glasgow, said: ‘It’s been a year that we’ve been planning this, we can’t start rearranging the wedding. 

                      ‘It’s sad because it’s Christmas time and people are trying to get to loved ones.

                      ‘Everything has been disrupted but aside from the cost it’s the emotional side, the trauma.’

                      The group, including a four-year-old and a one-year-old, booked a hotel for the night after passengers were told to return to the airport at 11am on Thursday.

                      Following another day of disruption, Ms Abraham and her fiance are booking an alternative flight from Manchester Airport for 6am on Friday morning at a cost of over £1,000.  

                      Mamosta Abdulla said he was on an Iraq-bound flight on Wednesday evening before getting stuck on the tarmac for four hours, and will miss his father’s memorial service.

                      Passengers were given a £12 voucher for food, he added, but were left to sleep ‘in a freezing place on uncomfortable chairs’.

                      ‘We are in Iraq with bombs going off nearby and the plane still lands. But here some drones have shut down the airport.’  

                      Carl and Lisa McCluskey, from Lincolnshire, found out from an air stewardess on Thursday that their flight to Egypt was delayed until further notice.

                      They have been told to check in with their airline Thomas Cook at 6am on Friday morning. They said making the three-hour journey home would be ‘pointless’, as they would have to return a few hours later. 


                      Passengers vented their fury as they remained stuck on the tarmac after flights were diverted across the continent due to a drone being seen at London’s Gatwick Airport




                      Social media users continued to report sighting throughout the night following the initial two drones that were spotted near Gatwick Airport 


                      Frustrated customers are stuck at a crowded Gatwick airport as drone sightings brought flights to a standstill and closed down the runway 

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                        Relatives of those waiting for loved ones complained about the lack of staff providing information for those at Gatwick Airport


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                            One passenger said they were forced to land in Liverpool rather than Gatwick 

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                              One passenger asked how a drone could force the closure of an entire airport

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                                Shocking test footage shows a drone bursting a grapefruit-sized hole in an aircraft’s wing

                                This shocking footage shows the potential danger posed by a small drone if it crashes into a passenger jet by puncturing a hole in the aircraft’s wing. 

                                Experts from the University of Dayton Research Institute’s Impact Physics lab simulated a collision between a drone and an aircraft wing under test conditions. 

                                The footage shows the drone punch through the outer skin of the aircraft’s wing as it disintegrates. 


                                Experts at the University of Dayton Research Institute’s Impact Physics Lab simulated the damage caused by a drone involved in a high-speed collision with an aircraft wing


                                The footage showed the drone breaks up on impact put it punctures a hole in the aircraft’s outer skin, pictured


                                Experts fear that even an impact between a small drone and a passenger aircraft could lead to a catastrophe 

                                Such an impact on take off or landing could potentially lead to serious control issues endangering the safety of the aircraft and those on the ground. 

                                The drone appears to punch a grapefruit-sized hole into the wing – into an area many aircraft use to carry part of their fuel supply.   

                                A drone hit a small charter plane in Canada in 2017; it landed safely. In another incident that same year, a drone struck a U.S. Army helicopter in New York but caused only minor damage.

                                Airline pilot Patrick Smith of askthepilot.com said: ‘This has gone from being what a few years ago what we would have called an emerging threat to a more active threat. 

                                ‘The hardware is getting bigger and heavier and potentially more lethal, and so we need a way to control how these devices are used and under what rules.’ 

                                John Cox, former airline pilot and now a safety consultant warned drones posed a greater threat to smaller aircraft and helicopters but could cause problems with a passenger jet. 

                                In a small aircraft the drone could smash through the windscreen into the pilot’s face. It could also be sucked into an aircraft’s engine or damage the rotor of a helicopter. 

                                Mr Cox said: ‘On an airliner, because of the thickness of the glass, I think it’s pretty unlikely, unless it’s a very large drone.’ 

                                A study by the US Federal Aviation Authority warned drones posed a greater risk than birds to aircraft as the drones carried batteries and motors which could cause more damage than a bird’s bones. 

                                Marc Wagner, CEO of Drone Detection Sys in Switzerland said jamming systems could disrupt a drone, but such technology is illegal in Britain. 

                                He said Dutch police trained eagles to swoop down on drones and knock them out of the sky near aerodromes or large concerts, but the program was ended as the birds did not always follow orders. 

                                According to Wagner: ‘The only method is to find the pilot and to send someone to the pilot to stop him.’  

                                British authorities are planning to tighten regulations by requiring drone users to register, which could make it easier to identify the pilot. 

                                But Wagner warned: ‘If somebody wants to do something really bad, he will never register.’ 

                                Gatwick travel chaos: What are consumers entitled to and can they get any compensation? 

                                Tens of thousands of passengers have been suffering travel chaos after a drone was flown around Gatwick Airport. Here is a look at what help customers could be entitled to:

                                – Will those affected be entitled to compensation?

                                Consumer rights experts say that despite the frustration for those who have suffered disruption, these are ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

                                Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘This situation will understandably be frustrating for both the airlines and the tens of thousands of passengers travelling to and from Gatwick ahead of Christmas.

                                ‘Whilst these extraordinary circumstances unfortunately mean you are not entitled to compensation, you may still be entitled to meals, refreshments, hotel accommodation or transfers.

                                ‘You don’t have to cancel your tickets though, as depending on the length of the delay, your airline should be providing you with alternative travel options or accommodation.’

                                – What are extraordinary circumstances?

                                Compensation for delayed or cancelled flights hinges on the reason for the delay and the length of notice passengers are given. Which? says that in cases where the airline can prove the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is payable.

                                Extraordinary circumstances are situations out of the airline’s control, for example, a security risk, political instability or severe weather that makes flying dangerous.

                                – What support can people get?

                                Which? says that if someone’s flight is delayed for at least two hours, depending on the length of the flight, their airline may give them two free phone calls, faxes or emails; free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay; and free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required.

                                If a flight was delayed for more than five hours they may be able to choose between being rerouted on a different flight or getting a refund – just as if the flight had been cancelled.

                                – How can insurers help?

                                Martyn James, spokesman for consumer help website Resolver.co.uk, suggests that as well as speaking to the airline, ‘you can also speak to your travel insurer to see if you have any options in your insurance policy’.

                                Giving general advice, the Association of British Insurers said people should speak to their airline or travel company first.

                                A spokesman said: ‘For additional travel disruption costs, such as missed hotel bookings or already paid for activities that you can no longer make, you should speak to your travel insurer as these may be covered under the terms of your travel insurance, depending on the type of cover you have bought.’

                                Insurer Axa says if customers need to change the dates of their trip they should make contact to update their policy.

                                ‘Our Christmas plans have been ruined by a rogue drone’: Furious passengers blast Gatwick chaos after diversions and cancellations leave thousands stranded across UK and Europe

                                Passengers stranded by the chaos at Gatwick Airport today told of families running out of food and trying to sleep in ‘freezing’ terminals and crowded planes.

                                Pregnant women and young children were resting on the floor, disabled people were on chairs and people were trying to calm small babies amid the travel carnage.  

                                Some became so irate at being stuck on the ground for four hours at Stansted that one allegedly opened the plane door before another claimed he was a terrorist. 

                                At Gatwick, Hollie Smith was supposed to be flying to Lapland with her five-year-old twin nieces Gracie and Sofia from Chelmsford to meet Father Christmas.


                                At London Gatwick today, Hollie Smith was supposed to be flying to Lapland with her five-year-old twin nieces Gracie and Sofia (pictured) from Chelmsford to meet Father Christmas

                                But she said: ‘Who will be the one to break the news to them? Sat in departures with no information. Twelve-plus hours to take down a drone is laughable… don’t they have police drones to send up?’

                                MailOnline travel editor Ted Thornhill was among those caught up in the trouble, as his Christmas plans to visit relatives in France were ‘ruined’ by the drone.

                                The father-of-one said: ‘We were supposed to be flying to Marseille to visit French relatives but our 8.40am easyJet flight was cancelled.

                                ‘The only options open to us were to transfer to a late flight tomorrow to Nice – which would have been very disruptive for the baby’s sleep pattern – or book a new flight, which would have been very expensive.

                                ‘So we’ve cancelled the entire trip. Luckily we heard about the disruption before we got to the airport so returned home. Very frustrating.’


                                Dozens of police officers are now hunting for the drone pilot as flights remain delayed today

                                A six-and-a-half hour TUI Airways flight from Cape Verde to London Gatwick was diverted to Stansted due to disruption caused by drones over the Sussex airport.

                                But passengers claimed it was ‘pure hell’ on the Tarmac at Stansted overnight on flight TOM687, with some shouting at other travellers and being abusive to staff.

                                Having been stuck on the plane – which landed at about 10.15pm last night – for four hours, a man then allegedly opened the door and put everyone on board at risk.

                                Another then said he was a terrorist – and video footage showed two Essex Police officers coming on board to defuse the situation. No arrests were made.

                                One passenger, Lyndsey Clarke, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, tweeted: ‘So Gatwick is shut due to drones so our flight TOM687 has been diverted to Stansted.


                                Passengers stand by a plane door in Paris today after being diverted there on a Norweigan flight that had been headed to Gatwick. They said staff had started handing out water bottles

                                ‘So far we’ve been stuck on our plane for four hours… a man has opened the plane door and put everyone at risk and then another guy says he’s a terrorist.

                                ‘Living pure hell right now. The staff on flight TOM687 have been amazing but unfortunately they have been subject to so much abuse.

                                ‘We all just want to get home. Several passengers on flight TOM687 just making this ordeal so awful, abusive to staff, shouting at other passengers. Police here now.’

                                Later, she added that she finally off ‘the plane of living hell’, adding: ‘Now to find a taxi back to Gatwick with a big bill – passengers trying to go together.’

                                And at 5.30am, Ms Clarke tweeted a picture of her car, saying: ‘Never been so happy to see our car. Back at Gatwick finally… eight hours later than our scheduled flight was due to arrive home at 9.30pm… just over an hour’s drive home now.’


                                Passenger chaos at Gatwick Airport this morning, amid chaos for tens of thousands of people

                                After arriving home she tweeted: ‘As for the terrorist… I have no words that someone thought it was OK to terrify an aircraft by saying he was a terrorist when in fact he was using it as an ‘idea’ to get them to let us off the plane, causing many of us to have panic attacks as we didn’t know if he was real.’

                                Another passenger, Ashley Pollitt, tweeted TUI to praise staff on the flight for being ‘nothing but helpful and informing us regularly’ about what was happening.

                                She added: ‘I’m sensing you will get a lot of complaints off idiotic customers that put both passengers/staff in danger along with other throwing stupid statements around. 

                                ‘I just wanted to say your staff from the captain to the cabin crew were nothing but professional and informative.’

                                TUI replied, saying: ‘Sorry to hear that your flight has had to be diverted Ashley, I can imagine this has been an inconvenience. It’s great to read however that our staff have been helpful in keeping you informed during this time.’

                                It then added: ‘Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us Ashley. We’ll be sure to pass on your kind words to the crew of TOM687.’

                                An Essex Police spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We were called shortly after 1.35am on Thursday, December 20 to reports a passenger was being disruptive.

                                ‘We attended and spoke to the parties involved. No offences were identified and words of advice were given to the male passenger.’

                                A TUI spokesman said: ‘We would like to apologise to customers travelling on TOM687 which was diverted to London Stansted due to the London Gatwick drone disruption. 

                                ‘While the aircraft was held on stand, our captain made the decision to call police to the aircraft due to a customer’s disruptive behaviour. We operate a zero tolerance policy on aggressive and abusive behaviour on board our flights. 

                                ‘The safety and security of all our customers and crew remains our number one priority and we are doing everything possible to minimise the disruption for our customers during this time.’

                                Stansted Airport declined to comment. 

                                Andri Kyprianou, from Cyprus, said she saw a pregnant woman sleeping on the floor and passengers with infants spending the night in the ‘freezing’ South Terminal.

                                She said she got to the airport at 12.30am for a 3am flight to Cyprus via Kiev, only to find it had been cancelled and the next connection in Kiev is on Sunday.

                                She said: ‘I haven’t slept since yesterday morning, we are very tired. It’s freezing, we are cold, having to wear all of these coats for extra blankets.


                                Video footage showed two police officers coming on board to defuse the situation last night

                                ‘There were pregnant women, one of them was sleeping on the floor. There were people with small babies in here overnight, we saw disabled people on chairs.

                                ‘There were young children sleeping on the floor.’

                                She said she will have to spend a night in Kiev, but she had been told by Ukraine International Airlines that there may be a chance of an alternative connection through Tel Aviv.

                                ‘Hopefully they will arrange a hotel for us so we don’t have another night in an airport,’ she added.

                                Chris Lister, from Somerset, who owns an online business, was travelling back from Kiev with his wife Freya.

                                He was due to land at Gatwick at 9.45pm yesterday but ended up trapped on the plane on the Tarmac at Birmingham Airport until 6am.

                                ‘There were quite a few babies and kids on board, I think they were struggling more than we were and one woman had run out milk,’ he said.

                                After starting his journey in Bangkok on Tuesday he was finally let off the plane at 6am, he said.

                                A Gatwick spokesman said 110,000 passengers were due to either take off or land at the airport on 760 flights today.


                                Queues of passengers in the check in area at Gatwick Airport today as they wait for updates

                                He was unable to say how many had already been affected but the first wave of flights is normally the busiest time of the day.

                                Around 10,000 passengers were affected last night after the runway was closed at 9.03pm.

                                Passengers are advised not to travel to the airport if their flight is cancelled.

                                Joseph Ouechen, a photographer from Morocco, was due to fly into Gatwick on Wednesday night but had his flight diverted to Paris.

                                After arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport at midnight, passengers with visas for the Schengen area were taken to a hotel but those without – ‘about 20 per cent’ – were left in the airport to fend for themselves, he said.


                                The scene inside an easyJet plane today, three hours after it landed at Manchester having been diverted from Gatwick Airport which was closed because of the sighting of drones

                                ‘There were families with babies who couldn’t get to their suitcases for their milk and stuff,’ he said.

                                ‘We were asking just for a favour if (airport staff) could help but they said they couldn’t do anything.’

                                Firefighters eventually crossed the border through passport control with blankets and water at 3.30am, he said.

                                ‘To be honest, I’m so tired and when the guys from the fire (service) came with the bottles and blankets I was feeling like a war, like (I was) a refugee, but I’m just flying to the UK.

                                ‘It’s surreal. I was flying to the UK and now there are firemen bringing me water and blankets.’


                                A helicopter flies over the runway at Gatwick Airport this morning after it was closed

                                Mamosta Abdulla said he was on an Iraq-bound flight yesterday evening before getting stuck on the Tarmac for four hours.

                                He will miss his father’s memorial service, he said.

                                ‘We got here at 6pm and should have flown at 9.10pm, but we were stuck four hours on the plane with a crying baby, the child was disabled and everyone was sweating because it was so hot in there,’ he said.

                                Passengers were given a £12 voucher for food, he added, but were left to sleep ‘in a freezing place on uncomfortable chairs’.

                                ‘We are in Iraq with bombs going off nearby and the plane still lands. But here some drones have shut down the airport.’ 

                                HOW CLOSE IS A NEAR MISS BETWEEN AIRCRAFT AND DRONES?

                                Near miss is a common term used to describe encounters between different airborne vehicles.

                                Governed by Airprox, there is no specific distance stated, instead it is gauged by the opinions of the pilot, air traffic controller and the drone operator. 

                                Earlier this year a ‘near-miss’ report was filed between a police drone and two fighter jets travelling at 520 mph.


                                Governed by Airprox, there is no specific distance stated, instead it is gauged by the opinions of the pilot, air traffic controller and the drone operator

                                The Devon and Cornwall officer was convinced there would be a collision as the military jet came into view.

                                The Airprox board reported the 13lbs device was flying at an altitude of around 300ft when the pilot heard a fast jet approaching.

                                The F-15 pilot, who was flying at an altitude of 500ft, could not see the drone but the drone pilot said the risk of a collision was ‘high’.  

                                Killer lasers, high-tech jammers or tracking the signal: How the police could destroy the Gatwick drone of misery… so why haven’t they already?

                                By Joe Pinkstone for MailOnline 

                                The criminal who is illegally flying a drone at Gatwick Airport is being hunted by police and military personnel using cutting-edge technology. 

                                Gatwick has been brought to a standstill in the wake of the rogue drone terrorising the airport.  

                                Several methods have been developed including laser-laden drones, high-tech jammers and tracking the signal via triangulation which may be used to end the fiasco. 

                                Human snipers have also been brought in to help with the pursuit of the drone.  

                                The Army has been working on a ‘Drone Dome’ or ‘kill-jammer’ – which can ‘soft kill’ a drone by knocking out its communications or a ‘hard kill’ by shooting it down with a laser from up to two miles away – and may use this prototypical technology. 

                                It remains unknown when the debacle will end and normal service will be resumed and how the drone fiasco will be drawn to a close.  

                                Scroll down for video 


                                Several methods have been developed which could be used to get rid of the drone and these include other laser-laden drones, high-tech jammers and tracking the signal via triangulation could be used to end the fiasco (file photo)

                                Frequency jammers and early warning systems are common near US runways but are seldom employed in the UK.  Communication between the drone and the operator can also be used to pinpoint its location through triangulation, in a similar way to mobile phone tracking.  

                                Is it possible to stop drones from flying in restricted areas?

                                Drones are a problem not only for airports – but also for prisons, where attempts have been made to send everything from phones to drugs.

                                The law on drones – or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) – has been tightened in recent years but Jon Parker, managing director of UK drone training company Flyby Technology, says rules are irrelevant to bad actors.

                                ‘They will always get through. This isn’t something that rules can help with because it doesn’t matter what the rules were today, they’ve just broken those rules,’ he explained.

                                Geofencing is used by most off-the-shelf commercial drones, which creates a software bubble around restricted areas that block aircraft from entering, but not all drone-makers include the feature and anyone building their own machine can exclude it.

                                Jamming is another option, which the US Federal Aviation Authority and China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport have already tested, but Mr Parker says the technique has its setbacks, notably because many drones use the same control link signal as WiFi networks. 

                                Tokyo has resorted to a police drone squad to patrol important buildings and capture nuisance drones.

                                Aside from technological assistance, eagles and falcons have been explored as a possible solution for rogue drones, though the results were not as successful as hoped.

                                In 2016, Dutch police began training eagles to hunt out drones, but a year later the programme was pulled as birds were apparently not always doing what they were trained to do and because of the cost.

                                Police are having difficulty locating the operator as the drone disappears when they close in with via triangulation. 

                                The process requires constant connection and if it is lost, so is the location of the perpetrator.  As the drone disappears the signal vanishes and police are then unable to narrow down the location of the suspect.

                                Radio transmitters operate with a specific frequency range, one that has been set aside for RC car/aircraft use. 

                                If the drone is recovered, it should be a formality for the authorities to successfully identify the other component.

                                Physical methods of destroying the troublesome drone focus around two main ideas; a physical destruction of the device and a communications block which will see the drone lose contact with its controller and drop out the sky. 

                                In May, London Southend Airport tested an anti-drone system which uses a combination of radio frequency and optical sensors to detect nearby drones.

                                The week-long trial using Metis Aerospace’s Skyperion product saw test drones flown within a 2.5-mile (4km) radius of the airport in Essex – 40 miles away from London – for the two sensors to pick up, and it was said to have been a success.

                                In August, it was revealed that the British Army had bought an Israeli anti-drone system, which will be used to protect sensitive facilities in the UK.

                                The Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radars technology by Rada Electronic Industrials is said to provide 360-degree surveillance and be able to detect drones 3.5km (2.2 miles) away.

                                The Drone Dome, in which the technology is embedded, can disable an airborne drone in two seconds from its five kilowatt ‘hard kill laser effector’.

                                Meanwhile a system developed by three British companies which is capable of jamming signals on unmanned aerial vehicle was trialled in its first public test by the US Federal Aviation Authority in June 2016.

                                The Anti-UAV Defense System (Auds) system – built by Enterprise, Chess Systems and Blighter – uses high powered radio waves to disable drones, effectively blocking their communication and switching them off in mid-air.

                                More recently in November 2017, a ‘detective early warning system’ and ‘drone interference system’ against unmanned aerial vehicles was trialled at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport in China, which has also faced issues with drones near airports.

                                The Cangqin system – which can work in all weather conditions – can monitor a low-altitude airspace five miles (8km) in diameter, and locate a drone three seconds after it becomes operative within the supervised range.

                                Earlier this year, China demonstrated the capability of its drone-killing lasers have successfully destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from 1,000 feet (300 metres) away.  

                                Back in Britain, research funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) found that a drone weighing 400g (14oz) could smash a helicopter windscreen, and one weighing 2kg (4lbs) could critically damage an airliner’s windscreen.

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