Heathrow drone: George Rusu charged with flying device near airport days after Gatwick chaos

38-year-old allegedly used a remote-controlled aircraft on a field near the runway

Adam Forrest
Sunday 20 January 2019 12:16 GMT
The alleged offence took place days after drone chaos at Gatwick grounded 1,000 flights
The alleged offence took place days after drone chaos at Gatwick grounded 1,000 flights (AP)

A 38-year-old man has been charged with flying a drone near Heathrow Airport on Christmas Eve, only days after a scare at Gatwick grounded more than 1,000 flights.

George Rusu allegedly used a drone on a field near the runway at Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, on 24 December, court documents have revealed.

The suspected drone flight happened just three days after Gatwick fully reopened on December 21 following three days of chaos affecting some 140,000 passengers.

Mr Rusu, of Blunts Avenue in Hillingdon, will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

He is charged with flying a “small unmanned aircraft without permission of air traffic control”, according to the court papers.

Hundreds of passengers suffered disrupted journeys after sightings of a drone grounded flights at Heathrow for around one hour on 8 January.

The Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation following the suspected drone flight. Police officers were among those who spotted the device in an area northwest of the airport, close to the M25 motorway.

There have been no arrests in the investigation into the Gatwick drone sightings since a couple from Crawley in west Sussex were released without charge shortly before Christmas.

On Friday, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) safety body revealed there were 18 near misses between aircraft and drones across the country between July and October 2018. The UKAB said 12 of the incidents took place in Greater London.

Officials at both Heathrow and Gatwick have said they were investing millions of pounds in equipment to prevent future flight disruption.

And the Department of Transport has said it is planning to introduce new police powers and safety rules to tackle the misuse of drones.

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