Gatwick drone sighting: Three planes diverted after reports of flying device near airport

Two easyjet flights and one British Airways flights diverted

Adam Forrest
Sunday 28 April 2019 19:17 BST
Plane prepares to land at Gatwick
Plane prepares to land at Gatwick (AFP)

A possible drone sighting at Gatwick Airport led three flights to be diverted to Stansted Airport in Essex on Sunday.

The two easyJet flights – one from Barcelona and one from Amsterdam – were initially sent to Stansted, before taking off again to land at Gatwick.

A British Airways flight from Heraklion in Greece was also diverted. All three passenger planes eventually landed at Gatwick more than 90 minutes after their scheduled arrival time.

Easyjet passenger David Holden tweeted about getting sent unexpectedly to Stansted “due to a drone sighting as we came into land ... Going to be a long day”.

Another passenger tweeted a photo of water bottles being handed out onboard a diverted plane and said she and fellow travellers were “stuck at Stansted”.

A spokesperson for the airport said: “Gatwick investigated a report of an unconfirmed sighting of an object outside the airport’s 5KM exclusion zone today but – following a full assessment – the airport has remained fully operational throughout.”

A Stansted spokesperson said the airport did not anticipate any further diversions on Sunday.

A number of drone sightings forced Britain’s second-busiest airport to shut down for 33 hours in the week leading up to Christmas, disrupting 140,000 passengers' journeys. The chaos continued despite a huge police operation and the Army was eventually called to bring the incident under control.

Military anti-drone equipment, which can detect the flying machines and disable them by jamming radio signals, remained at the airport until March.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow are investing millions in their own systems to prevent future flight disruption.

Earlier this month Chris Woodroofe, chief operating officer at Gatwick, told the BBC’s Panorama programme that the drone disruption at Christmas may have been an inside job.

“It was clear that the drone operators had a link into what was going on at the airport,” he said.

They had “specifically selected” a type of drone that was invisible to a drone-detection system that Gatwick was testing at the time, Mr Woodroofe explained.

Sussex Police is treating the possibility that an airport insider was involved as a “credible line of inquiry”.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in