London Heathrow T5. PHOTO: Wikimedia.

MIAMI — A drone has been reported in the vicinities of London-Heathrow (LHR) airport, forcing air traffic control to suspend all departures and arrivals from the airport’s Northern Runway (9L/27R).

“We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety,” said the airport via a Tweet.

“As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologize to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Eurocontrol, the European Air Traffic Control Agency, noted that “very high” flight delays are expected to happen at LHR because of the drone sighting.

This is the second drone-related disruption in London in less than one month. In December, London-Gatwick (LGW) was completely shut down because of several drones allegedly flying over the airport.

More than 1,000 flights were canceled because of the Drone incident at LGW, which affected more than 140,000 passengers during the three-day ordeal.

Chris Grayling from the British Department of Transport said that “We are in contact with Heathrow Airport concerning the drone sighting. I have already spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defense Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary.”

As of 13:15EST, flight departures out of Heathrow have resumed.

Luke Fox, Founder and CEO of WhiteFox, a drone airspace security company, said that today’s incident “highlights the pressing need for better protection of our skies.”

“Steps must be taken to secure airspace, particularly over critical infrastructure such as airports,” Fox said. “We must mitigate drone threats while still enabling ‘good drones’ to operate.”

According to him, “drones have untold potential to benefit society, but progress has been limited due to a few bad actors.”

Most, if not all drone manufacturing companies, install software that prevents the machines from entering restricted airspaces, such as those that surround airports.

Fox believes that both Heathrow and Gatwick incidents were preventable.


This is a developing story.