Chaos at Heathrow as 'drone sighting' grounds all planes

Chaos at Heathrow as 'drone sighting' grounds all planes

Chaos at Heathrow as 'drone sighting' grounds all planes

Departures from London's Heathrow Airport, the UK's busiest hub, were suspended today after a drone was sighted there, according to airport officials.

The suspension of takeoffs from Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports, was announced shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday, a move the airport said was made as a safety precaution. "We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause".

Heathrow wants to accommodate an extra 25,000 flights per year ahead of the planned opening of a new runway at the airport.

London's Metropolitan Police said that they received a report of a drone sighting in the vicinity of Heathrow just after 5 p.m local time.

Flights appeared to be taking off again about half an hour after Heathrow issued the statement, according to the Flightradar24 website.

"The control tower has no idea when will be allowed to depart. - at Heathrow Airport".

Several passengers stuck at the airport - including those on board aircraft - have also tweeted to confirm that they have been told about the drone sighting.

Arriving planes, however, continued to land at Heathrow.

"I have already spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary".

The British government yesterday expanded drone-free exclusion zones around British airports from their previous 1km limit, to about 5km.

Between December 19 and 21, Gatwick was repeatedly forced to close due to reported drone sightings, causing mass disruption to passengers, with about 1,000 flights affected.

The exclusion zone around airports is now one kilometre (half a mile) and this will be extended to five kilometres.

Police could also fine drone users failing to comply with authorities or present registration to operate a drone up to £100.

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