Airspace around Dubai International Airport was closed for approximately 27 minutes following “unauthorised drone activity” earlier this morning, according to a Dubai Airports spokesperson. The closure occurred from 0808 hours to 0835 hours, with departures resuming at 0840 hours with restrictions.
“Full operations were resumed at 0907 hours,” the spokesperson added. “Dubai Airports is working closely with its stakeholders to minimise customer inconvenience. Safety is our top priority and Dubai Airports reminds all UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] operators that any and all activities are not permitted unless authorised by regulatory authorities, and are strictly prohibited in restricted areas including within 5km of any airport or landing area.”
This is not the first time Dubai International has had to close to flights due to drone activity. In June this year, the airport closed its airspace for 69 minutes, leading to 22 flights being diverted. Meanwhile in January 2015, recreational use of drones caused a 55-minute suspension of air traffic at the airport.
The issue of recreational drones impacting commercial air travel has not been limited to the United Arab Emirates. In mid-2015, the UK Civil Aviation Authority warned drone pilots that they could face serious prosecution, up to and including a five-year jail sentence, if they endanger aircraft. The announcement was made following six “near misses” that took place between May 2014 and March 2015 at airports around the country.