London Gatwick Airport Shuts Its Doors Due To Drone Sighting

If you could pick a news story you would prefer not to be woken with, it’s likely that a major airport being closed due to a drone sighting would be high on the list. But that’s the news this morning: London’s Gatwick airport has spent most of the night and into the morning closed due to repeated sightings. Police are saying that the flights appear to have been deliberate, but not terror-related.

We’ve written on reports of drone near-misses with aircraft here back in 2016, and indeed we’ve even brought news of a previous runway closure at Gatwick. But it seems that this incident is of greater severity, over a much longer period, and even potentially involving more than one machine. The effect that it could have on those in our community who are multirotor fliers could be significant, and thus it is a huge concern aside from the potential for mishap in the skies above London’s second largest airport.

It is safe to say that if there was indeed a multirotor above Gatwick last night then its operator should be brought to justice and face the appropriate penalty without delay. Responsible fliers are painfully aware of the rules involving multirotor flight, and that airports of any description are strictly off-limits. It matters not whether this was a drunken prank or a premeditated crime, we hope you’ll all join us in saying that anybody flying outside the law should be reported to the authorities.

Drone over wheat fieldSomething that comes as a surprise is that the airport has no means of detecting and neutralising any marauding multirotors. Instead we are relying on eyewitness reports, which as our 2016 investigation linked above concluded are not always reliable. It should not be impossible to detect an incursion given the huge resources of an airport operating company and a national air traffic regulator, that seemingly nothing has been done comes as a significant surprise. When a GPS-equipped machine will obediently return to its take-off point when jammed with a directional RF source to the point of losing signal, perhaps it even offers the chance to catch any miscreants red-handed. All we are left with here are those eye-witness reports, which leads to the perennial question of proof. If this was a drone strike, show us the drone.

We hope that this incident is reported and investigated responsibly and is not taken as an excuse for hasty knee-jerk rule changes. As we wrote in the piece from 2016 linked above, there is a toxic mix of sloppy investigation and institutional axes to grind surrounding drones. And though we congratulate the BBC on their balanced approach on this morning’s radio reporting, there’s been some bad journalism when it comes to multirotors and the users at our level are invariably left without a voice.

Enacting more laws because “Something Must Be Done!” will make both politicians and tabloid readers feel better, but will do little except make life difficult for legitimate users. If we could have a present in our Christmas stockings this year it would not be redundant new laws, instead it would be effective enforcement of the existing ones, which are pretty clear on what constitutes a crime.

 

178 thoughts on “London Gatwick Airport Shuts Its Doors Due To Drone Sighting

  1. This is a bloody disgrace. Regardless of who did it or why they did it, a drone should not have been allowed to bring the whole of Gatwick to a standstill.
    The CPNI should have been working with Gatwick and other major airports to protect and mitigate the effects of this sort of thing. That the only response was to circle in a police helicopter trying to spot the culprit is a joke.
    If it’s being controlled manually then they should be able to triangulate the position of the controller.
    Regardless, drones are one of the most fragile flying machines giving off detectable EM signals. With a no-fly zone of a mile around the airport it should have never made it beyond the perimeter without a response to take it down.

      1. Most controllers use specific frequencies and protocols. I wouldn’t have thought it would be too difficult to pick out a drone controller if it was close enough to be a short range one. If it’s a high power one capable of 4miles or more that should be even easier.

          1. 2.4GHz R/C controllers frequency hop as well, don’t they? IIRC it’s meant for reliability in a crowded band but presumably it also frustrates efforts to try to pinpoint the transmitter.

    1. I think some are missing the larger picture. The increased costs to a society in reducing a behavior that shouldn’t be happening in the first place. The more technology enables, the more it costs society to clean up.

      1. Don’t they shoot whole chickens (and bigger) into jet engines to simulate bird strikes? I really don’t get the half pound of Tiwanese plastic shuts down airport scenario. It seems like football fouls, where someone get their ear flicked then suddenly rolls around on the floor in agony…

          1. Its not a misconception, birds often hit aircraft, Drones have never brought down a plane of any size, I think there is one helicopter. When your traveling at >100mph it doesn’t matter much what the thing you hit is made off just how heavy it is. The link you provided is to a discredited study, they fired the phantom into the wing at the max speed of the aircraft + the max speed of the drone. The aircraft cannot reach its max speed at an altitude the drone could fly at. Unfortunately a realistic test would have looked mush less impressive and generated less income.

            https://www.jetforums.net/attachments/shedded-tweet-jpg.2676/

          2. iampete: A jet engine would probably react less favorably to ingesting a drone with its metal parts and lithium battery, than it would to ingesting flesh and bone.

    2. I am having trouble believing this drone pantomime – surely this is a D-notice cover story. There is clearly something else happening at Gatwick (probably terrorist related) and the nanny state doesn’t want to cause panic amongst the stranded passengers. It is inconceivable that one rogue operator could go undetected for so long, or the drone not be disabled. A dingle drone operator would not warrant the deployment of several squads of firearms officers and soldiers carrying H&K MP5 assault rifles.

  2. Considering how long it’s been going on, my guess is they are flying preprogrammed courses rather than being controlled live.
    Flightradar24 shows ground vehicles running about all over the place.
    It is odd that no photos or video footage have appeared yet.

    1. I just can’t believe how badly prepared they were considering that this was almost an inevitable thing to occur. No automated detection, no jamming equipment for pranksters with commercial kit, not even half a dozen high-spec high-speed kamikaze or flak deploying drones on-site.

      1. You have to keep in mind that airport tech is NOT “modern” tech. If you think about how you are supposed to switch your cell to “airplane mode while take-off and landing” to minimize EMP … that idea of “jamming equipment” or counter-attacking drones sounds a bit silly.
        As a frequent flyer (business, I don’t LIKE flying) I can tell you that ANYTHING that could EVENTUALLY interfere with the safety of everyone onboard an aircraft should be kept as far away as possible from the runway. I HAPPILY switch my cell to airplane-mode for take-off and landing even if chances are microscopic that the EMP it could create would have any significant impact.
        SAFETY FIRST.

        No jamming. No counter-attacking drones. There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to uppen the weaponry just because assholes want their toys flying across the taxiway.

        1. Airplane mode is to keep you from DOSing every cell tower you fly over & from creating annoying hums or squeals in the pilots headset.
          You’re not going to ‘EMP’ the plane if you leave your phone on.

        1. A handful of gravel will down a drone by shattering the props. You can’t expect commercial airplanes to be so fragile that a few little pebbles thrown up by the wind can break them? Same difference.

          1. I dunno, plastic props aren’t particularly brittle. A net would be better, or string. Though that might be a hazard to jet engines, you could paint them bright orange and stick a little transmitter on them, so they’re easily recovered. Or maybe expanding foam, but thrown out in a blast, rather than a stream.

            How do they deal with things like low-flying carrier bags at airports?

          2. you have no understanding at all about how fragile modern jet engines are do you?

            the blades of a jet are working right at the edge of the envelope and the smallest thing can cause a catastrophic failure of an engine. and even if it doesn’t down an aircraft the damage caused to the engine will cost millions of dollars to fix.

            so to answer your question yes a hand full of pebbles could completely destroy a jet engine and down a plane. this is why they do everything in there power to keep the run way clear of any object that could cause a problem.

          3. >” yes a hand full of pebbles could completely destroy a jet engine”

            If so, then I would not trust them to fly at all, and the public should be warned about the real danger.

      2. To be clear, by flak I envisioned strands of steel wire and ball bearings etc being shot from something akin to a party cannon.

        Something that has become blatantly clear is that, despite there being a couple of incidents in the past couple of years, they have done nothing to protect the airports other than add regulations for drone usage. To me that’s incredibly negligent. It’s illegal to walk on to the airside of an airport, but they don’t just leave it to peoples discretion they have fences, security scanning, and armed police enforcing it.

      3. I find your ignorance about how electronic devices work worrisome. The cost of getting the equipment together is in the millions of dollars for each airport. All for a jerk that wants to shut down an air port to show off his new toy.

        The first person caught with a drone transmitter near an air port need to be in prison as a model for those thatwant to follow this line of thinking.

        I have heard of a place in Cuba….

        1. Lol, millions of dollars per airport is nothing. Compared to the potential cost of a bunch of idiots being able to stop all commercial aircraft flights in the UK for a day by using a half dozen drones.

          There are so many ways to locate a drone in the no-fly airspace that it’s a joke that they haven’t put something in place.

        2. I think it’s ignorant to say he’s ignorant. Maybe this time it’s an idiot flying the drone. But the next time it’s a terrorist. There won’t be enough time to shut the airport down without some sort of electronic detection system rather than word of mouth. A bad actor could take down a plane full of people in minutes. What cost would you think is appropriate to prevent that scenario?

          1. That’s a bit exaggerated. A DJI isn’t going to take down a jetliner; barring pilot error. A small plane maybe, helicopter very likely. At least not just a drone. If they can get explosives to strap to a drone they can probably get missiles or large caliber rifles. The drone is the least of our worries at that point.

          2. @Leithoa, explosives can relatively easily be made, but a predictable aerial delivery system (“missile”) is rather more difficult. Except: hello DJI.
            I’m not in favour of additional restrictions being placed on the hobby though, it’s already very clearly illegal and stupid to fly your toys into restricted airspace. Laser turrets? Now there’s an idea.

          3. @shannon
            Most hobbyist drones don’t have the capacity to carry an effective charge. Your talking what, a kilo, maybe? The pipe alone takes up most of that weight, ieds on a drone are a bogeyman. Especially given the state of small arms smuggling. A $5 laser pointer on approach will have a more drastic effect.

    2. “It is odd that no photos or video footage have appeared yet.”
      Because most of the incident occurred during the (long winter) night?
      The drone may not have any lights on it to give away its position.

          1. So they have devices to listen for gunfire at the airfield, amidst howling jet engines and winds, but not cameras to see what the source of the noise actually is?

            Even the airfield radars don’t point down that low, because that would be blasting the neighborhood with so much EMI. I’m still thinking it’s just someone’s “eyewitness” report that has sprung up mass hysteria in the staff and they eventually become too embarrassed to admit that they shut the airfield down for nothing.

        1. Probably spotted by someone as it passed in front of a bright background.

          At night drones would be easier to spot from above, seen against an illuminated runway, than from below, against a dark sky. (Unless perhaps the sky were overcast with low clouds brightly lit from the ground.)

      1. I really don’t understand that “bullets go amiss”-thing. You are not the only one saying that. I visit “gun-laden countrys” often, where everyone shoots off his gun/rifle/shotgun in the air at every event imaginable, and I absolutely never heard of any mishaps.
        Especially shot is hyper-harmless. What in the world can happen with small balls weighing less then a gram when they “rain” from the sky?

          1. Like the article says, it’s less about terminal than it is about projectiles with large lateral velocities being brought to ground-level by (so called) bullet drop.

      1. “Show the video, or it didn’t happen!”
        j/k
        But my paranoid evil twin (he’s right here next to me) wonders if the drone actually exists.
        It may have been a “publicity stunt” by a continually growing “nanny state” to raise public disgust for non-government controlled drones.

    1. There’s not a lot of guns kicking round England and certainly not at airports – the police / security guys have guns but rather obviously not shotguns.

      Also, firing in the general direction of “up” around an airport still risks hitting other stuff, including the police helicopter(s) which are being used to hunt the things.

    2. They spoke of a police sniper taking it out (this was mentioned on the BBC website – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-46623754) – but said they were worried about what would happen with stray bullets. As to why they couldn’t use shotguns, or air rifles? I’m unsure. I presume being an airport, there’s only limited number of weapons they can use due to the risks they present etc. Now if someone does the risk assessments, etc then it likely becomes much easier to do so.

      I do however have a unnerving feeling that this is a test of the reactions of the police. Imagining this with Heathrow and Stansted instead, and instead of just drones, drones with bombs on them… and it isn’t a very pretty sight.

  3. > Responsible fliers are painfully aware

    … unfortunately … I haven’t met one of those “responsible” flyers, yet. I have met all the other types. The last one I saw was about a week ago, starting his photo-taking multi-copter from inside a huge crowd of people (children) who wanted to see up close what he was doing. I guess the “safety distance” between his flying device and the eyes of kids was in the 1-2m range. The copter was one of the heavier kinds.
    THIS. IS. EVERY-DAY. BUSINESS.
    Needless to say that this guy was not interested in any suggestions to take a few steps away from people.

    I used to be a multi-copter-fan, built myself a couple of those back in the days when this was fun. But flyers like the “we chase police cars through the streets of London” youtube-idiots, airport-fly-byers and “look, you can see how the airflow from the fans is twirling peoples’ hair when I fly over them” have ruined that hobby FOR GOOD for me. I cannot and I will not be in the same group of people that constantly, uninterruptedly and frenetically praises such idiots.

    As much as I would see this GREAT HOBBY to be “free” again (with safety measures, for sure), right now the only hope I have is that it gets banned completely. If the “community” cannot play nice, the “community” has to learn it the hard way. Don’t even think about “hey, it’s not the fault of the majority if some stupids are too dumb to shit” – because, damned, yes, it IS the problem of that majority. It *IS* the “hey-hoh-wow-look-at-athatathathataht”-Youtube-behavior that SUPPORTS these IDIOTS.

    Shut it down. Let 10 years roll by. Talk about it again when those “heroes” have kids of their own. I would be sad if flying copters in the wild would be completely forbidden, but I have learned that the current situation DOES NOT WORK with the way the “community” thinks.

    1. I don’t understand why banning legal drone activity can help with illegal drone “activities”. It’s totally impossible to effectively ban drones because microcontrollers, acelerometers, brushless motors and other materials needed for drone/copter building are available basically everywhere.
      It’s almost like trying to ban crystal radio sets.

      1. > It’s totally impossible to effectively ban drones because microcontrollers, acelerometers, brushless motors and other materials needed for drone/copter building are available basically everywhere.

        Well, Saltpeter, Charcoal and Sulfur are available basically everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that you have to allow everyone to build bombs.
        Like I said. It’s not the BEST solution, but I do not see any OTHER solution. Because the “community” does not take care of their mentally impaired members. There are good reasons for free countries (really free, not as in “US” free) don’t allow everyone to carry guns.

        1. Buying saltpeter or sulfur requires an ID and gets you on a watch list these days, and they’re increasingly not available to the public even for legitimate use. You can’t even buy stump remover anymore, or they’ve swapped to some different formulation that’s almost useless. If you want to apply the same principle, certain types of electric motors should be banned.

          Though sure, you could pee in a pile of straw and make your own, but that’s hardly the point now is it?

          1. I can make almost any desired motor with a sheet of silicon steel, two ball bearings, magnet wire and basic shop equipment.
            That stuff is almost impossible to ban…
            Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way an anarchist who likes to wreak havoc or blow something up in public!
            I just don’t like banning the legal use of stuff while the illegal use stays absolutely unaffected.

          2. Like I said, you could pee in a pile of straw and make your own.

            But most people wouldn’t, couldn’t, or shouldn’t. It’s like the question of homemade firearms: possible, but to be effective you need a whole lot more than a piece of copper pipe and ball bearings.

        2. The laws are already there to fine the people doing this, and maybe even give them a little jail time. This is the equivalent of your anti-bomb law here — anyone can fly drones as long as they don’t do stupid stuff.

          The police just need to go out there and get those responsible.

        3. There isn’t anything in a quadcopter that cannot be built in a reasonably equipped hackspace. BLDC motors included.

          I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be regulations, it’s just a fact of life that, if people can use them to sow disruption then they likely will at some point and those places which are vulnerable to them should have precautions and safeguards in place.

        1. UK one firearm homicide per 1,600,000 people per year
          USA one firearm homicide per 21,645 people per year
          What a complete failure that is, having 97.7% fewer legal guns only reduces the gun murder rate by 98.6%.

      2. “I don’t understand why banning legal drone activity can help with illegal drone “activities”.”

        Think of it this way. Let’s say cars out in public have been completely banned. Would a person out driving a car in public be noticeable? Did secretly building the car in their garage change anything?

    2. we can make up any laws we want but the real trick comes in enforcement, I mean a law is only as good as you can enforce it. How would you enforce a drone ban? control the supplies? make lists for people who buy micro-controllers or motors? We already have laws against this kind of stupid action (flying near an airport), adding more laws wont do much except create government waste (good luck with a list of anyone who bought a brushless motor and microprocessor). Expecting “the community” to do something is also not going to work either as there is only so much policing that can be done. Some people just want to see the world burn and there is not much that you can do to stop them before the act. What should be really concerning is that the airport was woefully inequipped to deal with this situation on a locating the drone basis. If they cant even determine where in their airspace the drone is, then what chance do they have of finding the person flying it and hitting them with the law book.

      1. “Some people just want to see the world burn and there is not much that you can do to stop them before the act.”

        Not raising or encouraging, but that smells like work, and implies a long-view position to solving problems instead of quick-fixes…like some person chasing drones with a shotgun.

      2. You wouldn’t actually need to ban motors. If you were going to try a ban, which I don’t necessarily support, simply getting rid of the ready-made drones would solve the problem. Stunts like this, and Youtube geniuses, are all carried out by idiots. Idiots aren’t good at electronics. Even really simple stuff, the vast majority of people don’t even know Ohm’s Law.

        That would leave aircraft like this in the hands of intelligent people who put effort and pride into making them. Which would mean they don’t want to lose them. It’d also mean the owners of the much-fewer drones would be easier to identify.

        Currently if you can spend a couple of hundred quid, or less, on something to go bothering airports with, and make that money back 100x over on Youtube, easily, people are going to do it.

    1. Lol, I recon’d that it was an Amazon drone (using their latest “We’ll find you by your phone app!” technology) trying to deliver a pilot’s significant others Christmas present!

    1. Drones are fast enough to get from one part of the airport to another. It’s not safe to have planes taking off while a rogue drone is within range.

      One thing drones also usually are, though, is short-range. Surely the pilot of this drone would’ve been noticable in the high-security environment of an airport. Unless, and it’s large size might support this, it was using mobile phone communication.

      1. I don’t own a quadcopter, and have no interest in them apart from an engineering perspective. I just have a friend stuck at Gatwick airport and have flown from there myself multiple times over the past few months.

        Legislate for those who abide by the law to stop accidents from happening. However, trying to use regulation to stop malicious and blatant a-holes like whoever is doing this is just burying your head in the sand.

        There needs to be a physical defense to stop this from happening.

        1. The problem is, it isn’t only airports that require protection. Imagine someone sending drones to loiter above a hospital helipad. Now the hospital needs a physical defense system, too.

          1. Apparently “Privatizing Profits And Socializing Losses ” isn’t just an idea for companies. Just needs to be reworded as “Individuals reap benefits, society shoulders consequences”.

      2. No, I neither own nor fly any copters or drones.
        I just don’t like fun stuff to be banned. Thats all.
        Almost every day I praise the lord for the fact that I was born fifty years ago. And they didn’t ban absolutely everything even remotely fun then.

  4. “When a GPS-equipped machine will obediently return to its take-off point when jammed with a directional RF source to the point of losing signal, perhaps it even offers the chance to catch any miscreants red-handed.”

    This is a common falsehood as not every drone will do so and quite a few will either drop or fall prey to aerodynamic anomalies that require finer control. There is a defcon (23) talk about knocking drones out of the sky and the talk shows how the failure modes are hilariously executed.

    What IS concerning is that airports like Gatwick are not really prepared for this as they should have known it was coming and started preparing for it with the first commercial release and adoption of a drone. Part of me wants to think that it is just a matter of being so far outside of the box of airport security that they have no idea where to even start. What really concerns me is that the airports are loafting about dealing with these issues specifically for more legislature and thus more control of their situation through legal means, a power-play for better control of the land and air surrounding their properties.

    1. Perhaps technological defenses run into regulations about airport RF devices or something. New tech requiring regulatory approval could slow things down and encourage alternate solutions like falconry.

    2. you say that like there is ANYTHING they can do.

      you can arm chair quarterback all day long but all it does is show you’ve fallen hard into the dunning kruger effect. you know so little about what needs to happen that you don’t realize how ignorant you are on this topic.

  5. They spoke of a police sniper taking it out (this was mentioned on the BBC website – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-46623754) – but said they were worried about what would happen with stray bullets. As to why they couldn’t use shotguns, or air rifles? I’m unsure. I presume being an airport, there’s only limited number of weapons they can use due to the risks they present etc. Now if someone does the risk assessments, etc then it likely becomes much easier to do so.

    I do however have a unnerving feeling that this is a test of the reactions of the police. Imagining this with Heathrow and Stansted instead, and instead of just drones, drones with bombs on them… and it isn’t a very pretty sight.

    1. Shotguns are good for only 50 or so meters. (air rifles probably only 20 meters) This is the very thing that makes them good for tight confines. The right caliber of rifle and equipment on the other hand, in the hands of a marksman, can hit a target a 1000 m away. Getting close enough to the drone with a shotgun would be a fluke.

    2. Perhaps a micro drone with an explosive charge to take it out? Or a small drone that shoots “silly string” at the offender drone. The silly string could also be A-B foam, and gunk everything up to the point where the offender falls out of the sky.

  6. Rather than spend ££££ on tech, just put up a £100k reward for the ‘pilots’??? Given that the airlines have lost millions, it would be a economic method to solve the problem. Follow up with a 10 year prison sentance.

  7. Sentence! (damn the lack of an edit button…)

    There are loads of anti drone gizmos on sale to the military and of course the trained birds of prey that the French and Dutch use!

    Clearly no one at Gatwick has ever bothered to worry about this issue before. Too busy worrying about tooth paste and shoes….

  8. I can’t help wondering about the tech we’re seeing here. Operation over cellular network would give unlimited scope for “remote control” and would take some jamming. Power provisioning might be the greatest challenge although wireless charging landing pads are perfectly do-able. I picture an open barn being primed with the kit in advance with the operators enjoying TOR like anonymity.

  9. I suspect that this is merely a stunt by the CAA to enable the government forcefully enact drone registration in the UK so they can cheerfully ignore a recent consultation where many hobbyists voiced their opinions.

    Drones are less likely to cause damage than a bird.

    A regular hobby drone costs well over 500GBP, you’re not going to intentionally fly one of those to its destruction.

    So who exactly will? Kids with light 30-50GBP wifi drones?

    1. Well that didn’t display nice at all. This should be enough to find it on media.defcon.org

      DEF CON 25 Conference – Francis Brown and David Latimer – Game of Drones – Putting the Emerging Drone Defense Market to the Test.mp4

  10. I’m intrigued by the thought that we’ve seen other brazen, disruptive and lethal “technological” attacks in the UK this year already. Instead of nerve agent, cellular networked UAV’s could readily be deployed to cause massive disruption and maybe test capabilities for future counter-counter measure development. I mean, if little old me can figure out how to do this (including unlimited wireless recharging and anonymous operation) then it could be an easy win for international trouble makers with greater resources.

    Now it seems “An IT glitch” has also grounded flights at Heathrow Airport. Coincidence?

      1. Tesla, smeshla. Wire-free landing pad with Nice pure 500KHz sine between LC resonant coils ~100W with little radiation to detect unless already in range of tripping over. A 1m diameter copper loop provides plenty of real-estate to land on and separation can be as much as a radius without too much loss. And because this is unattended, it can be abandoned anywhere with a big old bank of Lipos and left to feed the birds automatically.

        Personally, I fret over parking outside the white lines so unless there’s some magic that only permits law-abiding citizens to design and build this kind of stuff, whoever’s responsible for looking after all our necks needs to understand the possibilities.

    1. Likely offset by all the extra flights and car journeys to get things back to normal.
      Quite possible this is an environmental, protest, but they still deserve maximum jail time ( 5 years under current UK law) and sued for anything they own.

    2. Apparently, I’ve been placed on the comment watch list,”Your comment is awaiting moderation”… Do to my thoughts on ‘Climate Change’.

      Doubt they saved anything, all those passengers still needed to get to their destinations, probably burned more, waiting. Any planes waiting to land, would have circled for a while, then re-routed, where they would have circled some more, waiting their turn to land.

      Personally, I like the idea of a warmer climate, and more CO2 available for plant life, which is the basic food/carbon source for all other carbon-based life forms on the planet. Most of our life-giving carbon comes out of the air, plant do extremely well in a greenhouse, augmented with 3-5 times our current 400 ppm level of CO2. Why is more food a bad thing?

        1. Krill, like in Omega-3 pill krill? Greenpeace has been doing a wondrous job, saving whales, seals, penguins, and other krll eating mammals, for decades. Fish eat krill, people eat krill (Japan), it’s a fun and healthy food. Maybe over fishing, and increased populations of those snacking. Any commercial exploitation of an animal, usually leads to a fast decline. Man-made CO2 is the cause of all bad thing on Earth.

          My guess is that these drone stunts are a protest of CO2 producers, who won’t be effected by the Carbon Taxes, no alternative to jet fuel, and people aren’t going travel weeks on a boat, like in ancient times. Who ever is flying the drone, knows it’s wrong. Huge media coverage, likely caught soon, but knows the chaos being caused, and people mad, because holiday plans are being spoiled. Protest are another ‘Climate Change’ bad thing to add to the list. For a lot of working people, money is already tight, higher taxes, more taxes, and general cost of living increase, with no hope of higher wages, or even job security. Taxing us away from Fossil Fuels, will only cause a lot more bad acts. the keywords are ‘MIGHT’ be able to ‘SLOW’ global warming, if we stop burning fossil fuels. It’s not guaranteed to do anything, just put it off for a while, at best.

  11. Drones are here to stay, no way to ban them. Just too many good uses, it’s not just a hobby anymore. Think this just illustrates a huge weakness in airport (and elsewhere) defenses, or how little a threat they are actually considered. When drones were first considered a serious threat, there should have been plans developed to deal with the threat, regardless of whether it’s an actual problem yet, or not, it would have been just a matter of time, without any defenses in place. With all the news stories about improper drone usage, you’d think there would be a huge market for anti-drone defense. Lot of homeowners are concerned about drones spying on them. Mostly, they aren’t, drones usually have a wide angle lens, and need to get pretty close. A fly over, at couple hundred feet up, isn’t going to give much spy-worthy detail. Then again, the police, maybe the military, don’t want anti drone defenses for the masses, since they use them, to spy on us. What did the White House do, to stop the drone tourism, had several crash inside the fence during the Obama years, hasn’t happened since.

    Really have some doubts about the high coverage drone news stunts. I don’t doubt there are fools, playing with daddy’s tools/toys, but the big stories usually don’t seem like something anyone would do, for fun. Hard to not be aware that flying around an airport is big trouble, fines, prison, lot of people, too easy to get caught, big gamble. Tend to believe these stunts are being done for a reason. Maybe terrorist, maybe the government wanting support for new taxes, more spending, more legislation. Maybe it was the airport, or an airline, since the delays would have forced passengers to change their flight plans. There ticket, and the free fix, probably would be longer delays, many would spend the extra to make up time, rather than wait.

    Isn’t gun control, about hitting your intended target? You’d think armed security, would have some level of gun control, and be of the backdrop, if he misses. Shotguns could have sufficient range, but consider that you can get birdshot rounds, in almost any caliber, rifles/pistols. Might be a little rough on barrels, but worth it, for something like this. What about designing something like a plastic bullet, be shorter range, less damage to hard surfaces (commercial planes), and still could carry the needed stopping power for most drones.

    1. movie studios have been knocking down drones over outdoor sets for a bit now, both with electronics and 12gauge “nets”, HBO had some of these in Northern Ireland while shooting GoT maybe Gatwick security can borrow a couple from them since peoples lives are probably more valuable then a plot leak.

  12. They should make a manitory law, which forces any device (drone) to give a device id with every signal packet. Then also force anyone who buys the thing to be registered. Then if your found in restricted air space you should be taken to court and they it should always be treated as an extreme case.. none of that, “well it’s a child” or “they had no malicious intent” stuff.

    1. I love laws that negatively impact the legal users of a product whilst only providing a mild hindrance (comment out that part of the firmware) to the people it’s supposed to negatively effect.

    2. That won’t solve a single thing. Laws only affect those who obey them.

      What about all the drones already in existence that don’t transmit an ID packet, and/or aren’t registered ? They won’t suddenly vanish off the face of the planet .
      How does that stop people building their own drones either from scratch or just by assembling spare parts imported from other countries ?

      If someone wants to do something like this, they’ll find a way. Knee-jerk ‘we must invent a law’ reactions won’t stop them, it’s just lip service to the disgruntled public.

  13. I have just heard that they have installed military style technology around Gatwick to prevent further drone confusion. I presume that means box is painted with green and black camouflage streaks?

  14. Surely an air-drop of 10^8 foot-long pieces of sewing thread would be enough to disable the drone rotors but be harmless to a commercial aircraft engine.

    If this was being controlled by someone with a line-of-sight transmitter then it’s hard to imagine them not being found by now so my guess would be an autonomous pre-programmed flight path. That would require GPS which is surely the easiest signal in the world to jam. You might piss off a few people using their sat-nav’s to reach the airport but they’ll probably forgive you.

    With GPS jammed, how would the drone react? My guess would be either hover stationary or land gently. Of course a compass and accelerometer would allow some general sense of position but it’s quite a sophisticated and risky strategy to fly by compass until you recover GPS signal.

    1. GPS jamming would probably be seriously last-resort just before shutting down all cell towers in range. Cell ID & RSSI triangulation mapped against GPS prior to jamming might be a usable fallback for the operator. Something as accessible as a stolen smartphone could readily provide a dead-end IMEI as platform for encrypted control, nav and fpv. Crims already rely on these to conduct their trace-less business.

      The aim seems only to be disruption in this particular attack but there are plenty of nastier objectives that can be imagined. Fortunately this one was just a game of “whack-a-mole” so last-resort countermeasures might have been an eventual option – but you can’t jam all the radios all the time to fend off a one-off strke.

  15. There is a great bit of footage on the BBC news site showing use of the ‘latest technology’ to combat the drone threat…. A copper (police officer) stood in a field, looking at his muddy shoes…

    It’s all a bit embarrassing really.

  16. Since drones can be flown remotely, and a considerable distance, if only intended for a one-way mission, why haven’t they been taken as a greater terror threat? The can carry a sufficient explosive charge, to cripple a plane. Laws don’t matter to those intent on doing something wrong, just define the penalty, if caught, and successfully prosecuted. Do they just wait until after a terror attack, before coming up with ways to stop similar attacks? They don’t try to stay ahead, keep us safe? Defenses should have been developed and deployed, soon after the no-fly zones defined. It’s not just airports either, drones are popular for smuggling stuff into prisons.

    Drone is mostly used to describe remote controlled flying vehicles, which is sort of a misuse of the term. But in the same sense, a drone could also be land based, or even water. If we can predict with all certainty the fate of the planet, do to climate changes, why didn’t they see the misuse of drones? They’ve had over a decade to ponder the implications…

    1. I haven’t found anything more. Wondering if they were just the first people the police could find with a drone. They aren’t releasing names, because they weren’t caught flying it, just in possion, and hope to sweat a confession out. The arrest was maybe a scare tactic, a gamble, if they didn’t catch the right ones, maybe those responsible would stop, to avoid getting caught by the new equipment, which appears effective. I don’t believe this was a random act of mischief, by a couple in their 50’s. There was some purpose to it. Any information released is going to big news, since so many flights were delayed, thousands of people had to wait, and want to know. I fly a quadcopter myself, and this a troubling act, as it’s already tough to find legal air space, doesn’t look to be getting any better.

    1. Yeah, i’m laughing my ass off here. I was wondering why there were no photos or videos at all and thought of the possibility “mass hallucination”. You brought this on yourself all you omniphobics.
      I’m just sorry for all the people who had nothing to do with this and had to postpone their trips for days, let alone have other misfortune brought on them.

    2. I reckon it was a police drone. There was a terror threat and once the public started reporting drone sightings, it made a perfect cover to avoid mass panic. Also a good cover for army and armed police presence.

      Det Ch Supt Jason Tingley said at the weekend it was a “possibility” there had never been a drone, as police had not been able to acquire any footage. (see BBC news website)

      If LHR is anything to go by, Gatwick will be covered in CCTV (PTZ), so I find it hard to believe that there is no footage at all.

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