London’s Heathrow Airport briefly halted departures Tuesday after a report of a drone sighting.
London’s Metropolitan Police said it received reports of a drone sighting “in the vicinity of Heathrow airport” shortly after 17.00 local time. The airport said it resumed flights in the early evening after grounding planes following the report.
UPDATE UK Aviation Minister Liz Sugg and Minister of State for Security Ben Wallace will meet with the heads of country’s key airports on Thursday to discuss the situation regarding the recent drone sightings that have disrupted hundreds of flights, according to The Telegraph.
As a precaution, departures were stopped at the airport whilst initial enquiries were made. Once it was established it was safe to do so, departures were resumed just after 18.00.
Police officers were amongst those who saw the drone and a full criminal investigation has been launched.
The Metropolitan police commander Stuart Cundy said: “We are carrying out extensive searches around the Heathrow area to identify any people who may be responsible for the operation of the drone.
“We are deploying significant resources – both in terms of officers and equipment – to monitor the airspace around Heathrow and to quickly detect and disrupt any illegal drone activity; some of which are as a result of learning from the incidents at Gatwick.”
The suspension of departures at Heathrow came less than a month after reports of drone sightings halted air travel at London Gatwick Airport, stranding thousands of travelers during a peak holiday travel period.
The time a drone sighting happened, caused over 1,100 flight delays and cancelations.
The incident shows how quickly even a report of a sighted drone can disrupt air travel. Officials are struggling with how to keep drones away from aircraft as the devices become more popular with consumers and businesses.