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December 2018

npas police helicopter gatwick drone

Drones detected at Gatwick Airport causing closure and cancelled flights

By | Drone Detection, UK Drone Legalities, Uncategorised | No Comments

Update 21/12/2018 – allegedly more drones detected , despite the UK military deploying cutting edge drone detection technology. Either this is down to copy cat drone operators or there was never a done there in the first place.

Drones detected at Gatwick Airport causing closure and cancelled flights.

Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw is in charge of policing at Gatwick, he said: “I’ve got resources from Surrey and Sussex right the way across the outside of Gatwick trying to identify who’s operating this drone and I’m absolutely certain this is a deliberate act to disrupt the airfield.”

drone gatwick airport

Two drones have been reported to have been operating over the runway at Gatwick Airport, causing the operators to close the airport, cancelling all flights and thus causing major disruption.

These drones appear to have been operating for sustained periods overnight on Wednesday 19th December through to Thursday 20th December 2018. We at Hovershotz find this very curious, as most drones have a battery life of around 20 minutes, which means that these rogue drone operators must have multiple batteries and the ability to constantly charge their batteries from where they are being operated from or they could be tethered drones where the drone has a wire running to the ground (an umbilical cord) providing constant power to the drone. Whatever the case, either constantly landing or taking off & landing or a tethered drone would make detection of these perpetrators relatively easy.

The question is why are drones allowed to fly over restricted areas and is there no technology to prevent this? Well, the simple answer is airports are no fly zones and the majority of drones have geo fencing built into them preventing operations at these locations. Permission must be requested and approved to unlock the geo fencing. This would suggest that these are probably self built drones that would not have this technology fitted.

Hovershotz understand that Gatwick airport use various methods of geofencing including DJI’s Aeroscope to detect illegal drone flights. Whether Gatwick Airport employ some form of drone shield or drone dome technology to prevent illegal drone activity is unclear. The drones could be operating on transmitter frequencies that could evade any drone jamming technology. Also, if the drone is flying autonomously (automatically on a pre-planned route) then jamming the signal is unlikely to work.

In conclusion. We feel it is highly unlikely that two drones could fly undetected for the sustained time claimed over a no fly zone such as Gatwick Airport. If these were indeed drones, then it is likely that they were only flying for a short period last night and the further sightings were most probably wrongly identified as drones. However is is feasible that a highly determined drone operator could, with a home built drone or hacked commercial drone, operating on non standard drone frequencies with multiple batteries and onsite battery charging could operate at length undetected.

Who would want to target Gatwick Airport? The counter terrorist police say there is no terror threat related to this. Could it be someone trying to commercially cripple Gatwick Airport, perhaps Gatwick are being blackmailed by the drone perpetrators. Could it even be someone trying to bring drones into disrepute and get them banned? It could even be some sort of State sponsored attack, this would fit in with the description of it being a large sophisticated drone and would answer possibly why it has been able to evade detection.

npas police helicopter gatwick drone

The above picture of the NPAS (police) helicopter flying over Gatwick Airport last night searching for the illegal drone operators, has been wrongly identified several times last night as a drone. It is even possible that the flashing lights that have been identified as drones could may well be Christmas decorations.

Police are hunting these illegal drone operators.
Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw is in charge of policing at Gatwick, he said: “I’ve got resources from Surrey and Sussex right the way across the outside of Gatwick trying to identify who’s operating this drone and I’m absolutely certain this is a deliberate act to disrupt the airfield.”

The Police are now reporting that they believe that the drone being used is a DJI Matrice 600. This is a large hexacopter drone that carries 6 batteries onboard. Interestingly these are the choice of drone for many governments around the world for many security purposes.

Why don’t the police just shoot down the drone – read our blog here https://www.hovershotz.co.uk/can-you-shoot-down-a-drone-over-your-property-in-the-uk/

The airport’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, says a drone is still on the airfield and 10,000 people were disrupted yesterday alone.

The UK tabloid newspapers are having a field day, with headlines such as ‘Attack of the Drones’ and DREXIT

Hovershotz are a CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) approved drone operator based in Cumbria, we have permissions for commercial operiations with drones in the UK.

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