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As it happenedended1546982551

Heathrow drone: Passengers delayed as flights grounded at UK's busiest airport

Transport secretary says military prepared to use equipment in place at Gatwick

Jane Dalton
Tuesday 08 January 2019 20:20 GMT
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Flights grounded at Heathrow after drone sighting

Hundreds of passengers suffered disrupted journeys after sightings of a suspected drone grounded flights for around an hour at Britain's busiest airport.

Heathrow suspended departures after a gadget was spotted in the air near the take-off point on one of its two runways.

Airport chiefs apologised for the disruption to passengers.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said he was preparing to deploy the same military technology used at Gatwick if the west London hub required it to keep planes flying.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with the Met Police to respond to reports of drones at Heathrow.

"Based on standard operating procedures, working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, we have resumed departures out of Heathrow following a short suspension."

The sightings came four days after both Heathrow and Gatwick reported they were investing millions of pounds in equipment to prevent future flight disruption.

Just before Christmas, Gatwick was forced to close for three days because of drone sightings, grounding about 1,000 flights.

With planes normally taking off at frequent intervals, the disruption is likely to have knock-on effects for the rest of the evening.

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the disruptions at Heathrow airport.

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:16
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A spokeswoman from the Metropolitan Police said they were called at just after 5pm to "reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport".

"As a precautionary measure, Heathrow Airport has stopped departures and officers based at Heathrow are currently investigating the reports with colleagues from Heathrow Airport," she added.

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:18
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The alleged sighting came four days after the airport reported they were investing millions of pounds in equipment to prevent future flight disruption.

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:20
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In response to the reported sighting, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said: "We are in contact with Heathrow Airport concerning the drone sighting. I have already spoken to both the home secretary and defence secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary."

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:25
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Some flights have now been taking off again from Heathrow Airport.

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:27
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Reports suggest the runway has now reopened and flights have resumed after departures were suspended.

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:31
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Here's more on the anti-drone technology both Gatwick and Heathrow have announced they will invest in: 

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:32
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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says he is in contact with the police commissioner regarding the disruption. 

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:34
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Departures may have now resumed at Britain's largest airport, but it is still unclear how many flights will be delayed over the coming hours.

Lucy Anna Gray8 January 2019 18:35
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Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said anti-drone military equipment could be used at Heathrow.

“We are in contact with @HeathrowAirport concerning the drone sighting. I have already spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary,” the Transport Department quoted him as saying.

Jane Dalton8 January 2019 18:48

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