Heathrow flights briefly grounded following another suspected drone sighting

UPDATE: Heathrow Airport says departures have now resumed after reports of a drone sighting grounded outgoing flights for over an hour, while delaying planes seeking to land on the runway. 

The airport’s official Twitter account confirmed that services were back in operation, but officials and air traffic controllers are continuing to work with the Metropolitan Police to investigate the reported sightings.

Original story continues below…

All flights departing from London Heathrow Airport have been suspended following a suspected drone sighting in the vicinity.

A Heathrow spokesperson confirmed the departures shutdown, which comes shortly after drone activity at Gatwick grounded 1,000 flights and caused unprecedented travel chaos over the Christmas period.

The spokesperson said the airport is currently working with the Metropolitan Police and has halted departures as a precautionary measure. The Flight Tracker tool (via Guardian) showed many flights circling the airport, waiting for permission to land.

“We are currently responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met police to prevent any threat to operational safety.

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

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Earlier on Tuesday, the government announced new clampdowns on drone use designed to deter those who are using drones illegally.

As a result, the area around airports where drones are banned is being extended, while drone owners with UAVs weighing between 250g and 20KG will now have to register their device, from November 30 2019.

Police powers to search premises and seize drones when it is believed they have been used for a crime have been extended, while the government plans to expand the use of technology that can detect and repel drones from airports and other areas where they can commonly be used for wrongdoing, such as prisons.

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