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Isabella | UAV Coach

Rogue Drone Pilots Force Shutdown at Gatwick Airport, Stranding 100,000+ Airline Passengers

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On Wednesday, all flights were suspended at Gatwick Airport—the UK's second largest and Europe's eighth busiest airport—after authorities spotted two drones flying nearby.

At the time this post is being published, the airport confirmed that the runways will be closed (at least) through 4:00 pm local time. Over 100,000 passengers on 760 flights were scheduled to take off or land from Gatwick on Thursday, just a few days before Christmas.

And the drones weren't just spotted Wednesday night.

They were seen again at 3:45 am Thursday morning, just thirty minutes after Gatwick momentarily resumed flights following the first incident.

Find more details at https://uavcoach.com/drones-gatwick-airport/

In related news, authorities are still working to confirm what they believe to have been a drone and Boeing 737 passenger jet collision over Tijuana, Mexico. There have been no confirmed incidents involving drones hitting passenger planes in the United States.

Share your thoughts on the increasing number of reports of rogue drones being flown in restricted airspace in the comments below. 

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As a certified, commercial drone pilot, these "rogue drone pilot" incidents concern me. For the past two years, I've been approached by curious bystanders and others who are annoyed with drones altogether while conducting drone operations.  The negative drone reports people read and hear about in the news stays with them and helps shape their opinion about my career choice. Many feel emboldened to express their belief that drones invade their privacy or are disturbed by their noise...still another person told me she wanted to shoot my drone out of the sky. The bottom line is that the actions of one can have an affect on many and rogue drone operations will result in my job becoming more difficult. Not only in dealing with drone bias in the public, but in additional regulations that are enacted out of fear and ignorance, holding everyone accountable for the actions of a few. 

I teach introductory drone courses at a local community college and plan to use this incident to educate participants on drone ethics and why ethics matter. In my classroom, there is no preference toward the commercial pilot over the hobbiest - I consider us all to be "enthusiasts" and that is what brings us all together. Whether the Gatwick incident was conducted by a hobbiest or commercial pilot, the situation received international media coverage and it will impact every one of us in some way. We need to work together and find a way to reach out and educate those who fly rogue operations out of ignorance or willful disregard for rules of law and overall safety. 

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I believe there was a mix up in the term 'drone' and RC by the person suspected of flying. It was an RC helicopter the guy was flying and didn't think drone laws applied. 

I agree with Cher that these types of reports make all drone operators look bad. This same type of 'bad press' occurred in the late 80s for RC aircraft. They were almost banned. A waiver was permitted in 1989 by the FAA with harsh restrictions. 30 years ago my RC helicopter was over $1000 and had minimal stabilization. You had to understand how to fly a real helicopter, so there were very few around. Now any fool can get a quadcopter because it almost will fly on its own. Those same fools try to do idiotic things with their drone.

In the United States the FAA has always had authority over anything that fly's including paper airplanes or a child's balloon. These drones appeared like the Bird scooters. There are already laws that ban these scooters, but someone decided if they flood the area with them there will be so many the law could never be enforced. Unfortunately for the drone, once someone dies the game will be over. The general public is afraid of things that fly, because they don't understand them. And the news loves to show a plane crash and announce someone was killed, when that same day no less then 50 people died driving like an idiot.

As a former FAA Airway Transportation Systems Specialist, I can tell you that within the next 5 to 10 years all drones not equipped with an operable ADS-B output will likely be banned from use anywhere in the United States or its territories. This will drive the price of drones beyond what the average person could possibly afford to take in the back yard and crash (well over $10,000) So play with them while you can.

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You can already get ADS-B on a drone for about $200.  https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2016/may/04/nextgen-for-drones

21 hours ago, Captain Rick G said:

I believe there was a mix up in the term 'drone' and RC by the person suspected of flying. It was an RC helicopter the guy was flying and didn't think drone laws applied. 

If by “mix up” you meant “Incompetence” then you might be right.  https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2018/12/24/world/europe/gatwick-airport-drone.amp.html

it's likely this was nothing but out of control paranoia.  Yes mutlirotors are easy to fly and there may be a lot of fools flying them, however, even with that the number of real incidents, deaths, serious injuries are all but non-existent. I’ve been building and flying multirotors since 2008 and people have been predicting that fateful midair collision that would kill hundreds and put an end to this evocation ever since.  

Could it happen, sure. Will it happen, probably. Has it happened, NO!  Its likely to happen just after a meteor hits the earth, they find the guy who really shot JFK, or we find that DB Cooper was the founder of Microsoft.  

On 12/22/2018 at 12:05 PM, Cher Brown said:

The bottom line is that the actions of one can have an affect on many and rogue drone operations will result in my job becoming more difficult. Not only in dealing with drone bias in the public, but in additional regulations that are enacted out of fear and ignorance, holding everyone accountable for the actions of a few. 

Depends on who you think the “one” is?  You assumed after reading this story that there was a “rogue drone operator” when it appears that there wasn’t. 

On 12/22/2018 at 12:05 PM, Cher Brown said:

I teach introductory drone courses at a local community college and plan to use this incident to educate participants on drone ethics and why ethics matter. In my classroom, there is no preference toward the commercial pilot over the hobbiest - I consider us all to be "enthusiasts" and that is what brings us all together.

It might be more effective if you taught ethics to journalists.  Passion for aviation of any kind is certianly a unifying influence but I can assure you there’s a significant difference between commercial pilots and enthusiast UAV operators.  

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Still no evidence of any UAV and news Sources have stopped reporting on the subject of a UAV causing the shutdown. Equipment failure reportedly had shutdown another airport in the U.K. and statements by police said it may have never been a drone sighting.

This has been a massive advertisement for CUAS and if we're to believe the news, $5 million has been spent on it while the airport itself has had a 50% sale to a French Company.

That's a lot of movement in one week and still no evidence of a UAV causing anything? 

Edited by MedicFL1
punctuation

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Av8Chuck, Your link is for a $200 ADS-B 'receiver'. They are very cheap and I have a few. It will be the ADS-B 'OUT' that will be very expensive. So expensive, manned aircraft pilots are crying over the requirement, and the FAA is paying for up to $500 of the cost for now (it costs much more)

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It also transmits but that is not being used because they didn’t have permission at the time they developed it.  It’s an FCC certification not FAA that was the problem.  

This is not expensive, it’s the STC required for certified AC that’s expensive. 

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On 12/29/2018 at 12:45 PM, Av8Chuck said:

It might be more effective if you taught ethics to journalists.  Passion for aviation of any kind is certianly a unifying influence but I can assure you there’s a significant difference between commercial pilots and enthusiast UAV operators.  

Yup.  Journalist sensationalize and embellish without facts all the time.

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