Reports say that a recent drone sighting at the Gatwick Airport in the UK have caused 3 flights to be diverted. According to a news report by BBC, “EasyJet flights from Barcelona and Amsterdam were diverted to Stansted, as was a British Airways flight from Heraklion, Greece. All three later landed at Gatwick more than 90 minutes after their scheduled arrival time.”
This incident follows another sighting of a drone at the same airport last December which led to a 33-hour shutdown affecting more than 140,000 passengers and “1000 delayed or cancelled flights between Decemeber 19 and 21,” according to a report by the Telegraph. Because of that, Gatwick Airport had to purchase military-grade anti-drone equipment worth thousands of pounds, the report continued.
Elsewhere in the world, drones have also forced the halting of flights. Drone flying has many uses in different fields, as well as providing a fun, interesting recreation or hobby. Yet the dangers it poses when drones are flown in restricted zones, such as airports cannot be diminished. Such risky drone flying can cause damages to planes, lives, and properties.
In the U.S., “the FAA considers drone flying violations of restricted airspace, such as around airports and critical infrastructure, to be serious offense. The FAA may impose civil penalties of up to $32,666 per incident. The FAA may also impose criminal sanctions, which include a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to three years upon conviction.” — For more of drone violations and their corresponding penalties, see this.
It is about time to be stricter with violators of drone flying regulations, such as unsafe operations, flying without a license, or over restricted areas. Not only are they a menace to the drone industry, but a great danger to lives and properties and security. Issuing of warning letters and educating the public to raise more awareness of drone rules may no longer be enough.