5 years in prison is woefully inadequate ……..

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  • capetonianm

    Civil Aviation Act of 1982, amended I think in 1998, and possibly again later, contains numerous clauses related to endangering civilian aircraft.

    I don’t know how severe the penalties are, probably not severe enough, but it would be heartening to think that the police will catch these pondlife and that the full extent of the law will be applied. And more. And that they might get hurt ‘whilst resisting arrest’ – accidentally of course.


    Derek, I was in Faro waiting for the return flight. A BA / Groundforce rep came to the lounge and told the BA pax that the flight was cancelled, although the screens showed the inbound, from LGW, arriving 2 hours late at 13:00. Derek, did the flight actually depart? Anyway, BA agents were very friendly and professional. All PAX booked into a 4 star hotel, Ria Park, and lunch today and tomorrow, plus dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow, are included. We went home but will stay at the hotel tonight to see what it is like, and to have dinner.

    I also cannot understand why drones cannot simply be shot down, but recently saw a documentary about a British aircraft carrier where the officer said that the ship was having to change speed to try to lose the birds that were following the ship, and making it not possible for aircraft to land on the ship. He said that, in the old days they could shoot the birds, but not allowed to now. Unbelievable.

    Tend to agree about a financial penalty also. Sue for damages and bankrupt the person. Yes, their family may become homeless, but there is a good chance that the spouse knows about, or suspects, the drone and activity. For the future this may help to deter other idiots.


    Certainly a very emotive topic.

    One has to feel for those whose holidays were disrupted, and how many business meetings were cancelled because of the actions of one crazy individual.

    And therein lies the problem if said individual is prosecuted: his defence lawyer may well argue that his client wasn’t in possession of his full faculties, wasn’t fully aware of the consequences of his actions, etc etc.

    What I find baffling is that the authorities seem powerless to destroy the drone(s) causing the problem. Surely there is legislation in place to allow the Police and/or Armed forces to neutralise the threat (to coin a phrase).

    Hopefully everybody will get to their destinations safely, if later than planned.

    Tom Otley

    I feel very sorry for all those who have had their Christmas holiday plans and family reunions ruined by this.

    The airport is closed for flights for a second night, and even tomorrow looks like it will be very difficult.

    Thursday 20th December 23:00

    Gatwick’s runway will remain closed and all flights are cancelled for the rest of the evening because of continued drone sightings in and around the airfield.

    Passengers due to fly from Gatwick should check the status of their flight with their airline and not travel to the airport if their flight is not confirmed.

    We have called in additional staff right across the airport, many from Christmas leave, and are working tirelessly with police and security partners to halt this drone flying and thank passengers for their continued patience.

    We share passengers’ real anger and frustration with the disruption and disappointment this criminal and reckless behaviour has brought at Christmas time, keeping them apart from family and friends.

    Although a matter for a future time, we will work with the police to categorically ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice for this inconsiderate and illegal behaviour.

    Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick 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. We are working very closely with the police and the security services to try to resolve this for passengers.

    “We hope passengers appreciate that we must and will always prioritise their safety over everything else. We are all working flat out to minimise inconvenience and have additional staff in both terminals assisting passengers who are waiting. Regrettably we are still not in a position to say when it will be safe to reopen the airport. As soon as we can we will.

    “To recap the facts: We first had reports of two drones flying in and around the airfield at 21:03 last night. As a result, we took immediate steps to close the runway in accordance with our airport safety protocols. We obviously wanted to be in a position to reopen the airport again as quickly as possible. We are still receiving drone sightings in and around the Gatwick airfield. Therefore, until we are confident that the issue has been resolved it would clearly not be in the interests of passengers to do so as we could be jeopardising their safety.

    “So regrettably, for the time being, the airport will remain closed as a result of this criminal activity. While some airlines have cancelled all flights up to 7pm tonight, we would encourage all passengers to check the latest information on their flights directly with their airline or on the Gatwick website.

    “We are working hard with both the police and Government agencies as we seek to resolve this situation. We know that everyone, including Government, appreciates the severity of the situation and are very grateful for the active role that the police are taking to try and resolve this. We all recognise the urgent need to take the necessary steps that can lead to services getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

    “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. It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way. This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again.

    “In the meantime all our focus is on sorting the current challenge and getting services back to normal for passengers. At the moment, I am not in a position to say with certainty when that might be but everyone is doing whatever they can to help make that happen.”

    Tom Otley

    … and from Easyjet

    easyJet Gatwick Statement: 20 December 2018 17.00

    “We are making every effort to get people to their destination at this important time of the year, but following reports of drones flying over Gatwick Airport, the runway remains closed and all flights are currently suspended. At this stage there is no indication of when the airport might re-open and as a result we have cancelled all flights due to operate to or from London Gatwick today.

    “We expect disruption to continue into tomorrow and so advise all customers flying to and from London Gatwick tomorrow to check the status of their flight on our Flight Tracker http://www.easyjet.com/en/flight-tracker or via the app. Customers on cancelled flights, will be entitled to a free of charge transfer to an alternative flight and hotel accommodation if required. We will also reimburse any reasonable expenses incurred by passengers who arrange their own comparable alternative transport.

    “Whilst the situation is outside of our control, we recognise how frustrating this is for everyone involved and would like to apologise to passengers for the disruption to their travel plans.

    “The safety of its passengers and crew remains our highest priority.”


    I see no reason if the Drones are properly individually registered as they have to be in Australia, Austria, Germany and other countries, why these people cannot be easily found and prosecuted. Surely with all our Technology, we can find who is operating these mostly 1-1,500 meter away controlled drones from the signals?
    I also agree this could be a very serious threat to security with far greater implications.
    In which case a more thorough Licensed approach should be used, unless for approved uses.

    There would be an array of offences related to endangering an aircraft, infringements on airports, Security, to causing injury ABH GBH if anything were to injure anyone.
    This as well as civil compensation brough by the Airlines and Airport should be pursued against them.
    I am sure such “People”, would also have much more to hide or going on, they could easily be be charged with, when Police found them. This is not uncommon once Police or Security officials dig a little into peoples lives!

    But i certainly agree the costs should be levied against them, Airlines, Airport… and what of the compensations and costs to us as Travellers also?

    Hit them with many charges, imprisonment, Seizure orders of all assets for Criminal activity (Proceeds of Crime Act), and bankrupt them.
    It would give a harsh stark warning to others.

    As usual, the UK is behind with Technology, enforcing the laws we do have, many badly written these days, compared to many other Countries we all travel to and through.

    What would be the current EU guidelines on Passenger compensation for such events, unfair if levied on The Airlines?
    Urgent immediate restrictions should be brought in, until proper legislation is created.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Certainly a very emotive topic.

    One has to feel for those whose holidays were disrupted, and how many business meetings were cancelled because of the actions of one crazy individual.
    …………………………………………………………………. Hopefully everybody will get to their destinations safely, if later than planned.

    My contribution is slightly off-topic (so, Moderators, feel free to start a new topic for this response). I am writing this as one of those who (with my wife) has been stranded away from home. Mind you, we are in a very sunny and hot St Lucia, and our hotel has permitted us to keep our hotel room for the two nights we now need, so some might say we have nothing about which to moan !

    My contribution is actually about the way BA handled the arising situation. I am aware that this topic has been raised previously.

    When I was in business – for over 40 years – I regularly reminded my staff that things will go wrong from time to time, however hard we tried to avoid this. But the mark of a good company is how we handled this when it happened. Considering how often travel does get interrupted, BA does not have protocols which mark them as a company that cares.

    – We were to travel back to LGW tonight, Business, and we checked in last night, without difficulty, before the problem at Gatwick became widely known;
    – Mid-morning we received a terse message “We are sorry to advise you your flight BA XXXXX etc has been cancelled. Pls visit ba.com/mmb or call BA 1-800-247 9297 or +44 844 493 0787”. No explanation, no personalisation, no offer of arrangement of overnight accommodation or what alternatives we had. Basically, “you are on your own”.
    – ba.com/mmb was useless for re-booking, when we could actually log in. The 1-800 number does not work in many countries, including St Lucia and the 844 number repeatedly had a message to phone back later. As many readers will know, the BA website was in meltdown.
    – Much later, I managed to get through by phone to someone in BA sales, who told me that all systems were down but they would call me back in an hour, when they had been restored. We did not get a call.
    – By early evening I was becoming very alarmed at the thought of being stranded – but the manager of our hotel was able to find a way to get the 1-800 number working and eventually a very kind adviser (working in India) was able to re-route us back to the UK via Philadelphia

      in 2 days’ time

    . We shall see if this works.

    We were lucky that the hotel manager was able to access the 1-800 number (several of her staff told us that it’s impossible there). There are many others here who have not been so fortunate as us [as we hope we are] and will not be able to return to their families in the UK until after Xmas. The problem was not caused by BA, but their handling of this admittedly difficult situation was woeful.


    ASK1945, sounds a really difficult experience, luckily your hotel and location went some way to compensating for the disruption

    For future reference, if you use Skype, you can call 0800 numbers free from overseas by using the keypad. I do this frequently without any problems.


    How come this problem is only in England?
    Other places have tough legislation and control.
    Also why no one talking about the drone manufacturers? They have more responsibilities about designing, height restrictions, geofencing etc.

    Tom Otley

    Friday 21st December 06:14

    Gatwick’s runway is currently available and a limited number of aircraft are scheduled for departure and arrival.

    Gatwick continues to advise passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport as departures and arrivals will be subject to delays and cancellations


    Martyn I think the issue is the damaged drone falling back to earth.Some are large. Have to be licenced to use them in parts of Australia for any business purpose even simple photography for real estate sales. I think only a revenue ploy as the drone used isnt traceable to the operator.


    Heathrow next? God forbid…..


    FR24 show a number of easyJet aircraft repositioning into LGW so fingers crossed things are returning slowly to normality.


    For too long the British authorities have been way too soft on airport incursions. Remember a couple of years ago the protestors who chained themselves to the runway at London City


    5 hours to remove that lot due to ‘Health and Safety’..

    If an army sniper can target a hit from 2 miles, then it should not be beyond the realms of possibility for a drone to be bought down when flying over an airport at relatively low level…

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Interestingly, the LGW spokesman was interviewed on the radio early this morning.

    The interviewer , asked a leading question suggesting that it might be environmentalists behind the incursions.

    He went very coy and went back on safe ground empathising with the disrupted passengers.

    Whether or not it’s environmentalists , his tonality and change in inflection suggested to me that they have a damn good idea of who’s flying the thing. And it’s clear that this is a well thought out , deliberate act to cause chaos .

    And if people can hack into seriously protected systems, it seems to me that it’s the easiest thing in the world to de-activate security measures on a hard piece of kit if your intent and IMO , this is , is to cause harm not disruption . Scary stuff !!

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