How dangerous are drones to aircraft and why do airports sometimes shut down?

How dangerous are drones to aircraft and why do airports sometimes shut down?

But why did the airport have to get shut down? And just how dangerous are drones to aircraft? Here is what we know…

How dangerous are drones to aircraft?

Anything in the air close to aircraft poses a hazard risk.

Drones vary in sizes and weight, and many of them are very dangerous if they are around planes.

As of July 30 2018, new laws came into play which ban all drones from flying above 400ft and within 0.6 miles of airport boundaries.

Drone users who flout the height and airport boundary restrictions or fly negligently could face an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

In addition to the physical collision risks that drones pose to an aircraft, another big risk is from radio frequency interference.

If this happens, pilots can lose control of the plane, resulting in a crash.

Pilots have called for more testing on the potential impact of a drone on an engine but this would be expensive, reported The Guardian.

Why do airports shut down?

When there is a risk of drones being close to aircraft, airports shut down and flights become either delayed or cancelled.

Airlines' global association, IATA, warns of "an exponential increase in reports of RPA operating dangerously close to manned aircraft and airports."

They are also aware of the financial impact of disruption caused by drones flying close to airports: the diversions and delays at Gatwick cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Thousands of passengers whose flights have been delayed or cancelled after two illegal drones flew onto the runway at Gatwick airport could get their money back or a new flight.


Two thousand people were left grounded after their flights were cancelled as a result of the security breach – just days before Christmas.

By December 22, Gatwick Airport was able to open the runway, aiming to run a full schedule.

A spokesperson said: "Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover our operations following three days of disruption and are advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport.

"Safety is Gatwick’s top priority and we are grateful for passengers’ continued patience as we work to get them to their final destination in time for Christmas."

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