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Holiday chaos as drones closed London Gatwick Airport

LONDON – Drones surging across the runway forced the London Gatwick Airport to interrupt on Thursday during one of the busiest times of the year, stringing or delaying tens of thousands of Christmas season travelers and dismissing a hunting operator of the invading aircraft. The prospect of a fatal collision between any police described as industrial drones and an airline led authorities to stop all flights in and out. The police said they had no doubt the greatest intrusion intentionally attempted to disturb operations at the airport during a peak period, but there were "absolutely no signs that this is terror-related." About 20 police forces from two forces tried to reset their drone operator after the first sight of Gatwick on Wednesday evening. The police told the airport officials that it was too risky to try to shoot down the two drones &#821 1; immediate bullets can kill someone. "Every time we think we're getting close to the operator, the drones disappear. When we see opening the airfield, the queen returns," said Sussex police superintendent Justin Burtenshaw. He said that the newer generation drones are bigger and have greater scope, making it more difficult for the police to locate the person who controls the device. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the military would be used to help the police. He said that the armed forces would give "unique opportunities" but gave no details. With drones growing in popularity and becoming increasingly affordable, the aviation authorities have warned in recent years…

Drones surging across the runway forced the London Gatwick Airport to interrupt on Thursday during one of the busiest times of the year, stringing or delaying tens of thousands of Christmas season travelers and dismissing a hunting operator of the invading aircraft.

The prospect of a fatal collision between any police described as industrial drones and an airline led authorities to stop all flights in and out.

The police said they had no doubt the greatest intrusion intentionally attempted to disturb operations at the airport during a peak period, but there were “absolutely no signs that this is terror-related.”

About 20 police forces from two forces tried to reset their drone operator after the first sight of Gatwick on Wednesday evening. The police told the airport officials that it was too risky to try to shoot down the two drones &#821

1; immediate bullets can kill someone.

“Every time we think we’re getting close to the operator, the drones disappear. When we see opening the airfield, the queen returns,” said Sussex police superintendent Justin Burtenshaw. He said that the newer generation drones are bigger and have greater scope, making it more difficult for the police to locate the person who controls the device.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the military would be used to help the police. He said that the armed forces would give “unique opportunities” but gave no details.

With drones growing in popularity and becoming increasingly affordable, the aviation authorities have warned in recent years about the risk of a catastrophic collision with an airline and Britain – and the United States – has tightened the restrictions. Drones could be sucked into a jet engine or crash through a windshield, which did not succeed with the pilot.

The Gatwick crisis had a ripple effect on air travel in Britain, continental Europe and beyond as incoming flights were sent to other places and outwardly landed. The British authorities said they would lift some barriers to night flights at other airports to ease congestion.

Travelers described freezing conditions at Gatwick as hundreds of sleepers on the benches and floors, and passengers and their families complained that they were not kept informed of redirected flights.

“We understand that it’s an emergency, but the lack of information is really surprising,” said Vanessa Avila, an American based in Britain working for the United States military. Her mother was on a flight from Florida to Gatwick, which ended in the northern English city of Manchester.

Gatwick – Britain’s second busiest airport with passenger numbers – first completed its landing run on Wednesday night after the drones were discovered. It opens shortly at 3 o’clock on Thursday but closes 45 minutes later after further observations.

The airport, about 30 miles south of London, looks at more than 43 million passengers a year. About 110,000 had planned to go through on Thursday.

Gatwick’s leading Stewart Wingate said the drone flow was estimated to cause “maximum disturbance” just before Christmas.

The police said the drones were of an “industrial specification” an indication that they were not the small cheap machines sold to hobbyists. The larger drones are more dangerous for jet jets in flight and can stay longer in the air.

The airport terminals got stuck with thousands of weary travelers.

“I have not slept since yesterday morning. We are very tired. It is frozen, we are cold, must wear all these garments for extra blankets,” said Andri Kyprianou, Cyprus, whose flight to Kiev was interrupted.

] “There were pregnant women. One of them was sleeping on the floor “There were people with small children here overnight. We saw disabled people on chairs.” There were little children sleeping on the floor. “

Passengers complained to Twitter that their Gatwick-linked flights had been diverted to London’s Heathrow Airport, Manchester, Birmingham and other cities.

Luke McComiskie, who landed in Manchester over 260 miles from London, said the situation was” just chaos, and they only had two buses and taxis that charge 600 pounds ($ 760) to get to Gat wick. “

Pilots around the world have reported many close conversations with drones in recent years. flight of a drone within a kilometer of an airport punishable by up to five years in prison.

Gatwick closed his banana last year when a drone was discovered in the area. A drone also led shortly to the suspension of Dubai International Airport 2016. [19659003] Britain’s aviation security officers complained that regulators have repeatedly ignored their demands for harder measures against drones. It said it has called for the use of ” geofencing “software to stop drones from flying to a restricted airspace – and other countermeasures.

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Associated Press author Jill Lawless, London, contributed

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