Dublin Airport flights suspended due to 'confirmed' drone sighting over airfield

Operations resume a short time later but arriving and departing aircraft face delays

Tom Batchelor
Thursday 21 February 2019 12:59 GMT
Plane comes into land after brief Dublin airport closure caused by drone

Dublin Airport temporarily grounded flights on Thursday due to a "confirmed sighting" of a drone.

A spokesperson for the airport said arrivals and departures had been halted "due to the confirmed sighting of a drone over the airfield".

Passengers were urged to contact their airline's website for updates but a short time later the airport said it had reopened.

Planes departing for destinations including Glasgow, Zurich and London showed delays of up to an hour after having to wait on the tarmac.

The airport apologised for any inconvenience and said the safety and security of passengers was "always our key priority".

Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus said: "Flights have resumed at Dublin Airport following a brief closure due to a drone sighting.

"Some delays may be experienced today as a result, but we'll be doing everything possible to minimise these."

Ireland's police force, the Garda, issued a short statement to confirm the incident was under investigation.

It follows major disruption at Gatwick Airport before Christmas and subsequent delays and cancellations at a string of airports including Heathrow and Dubai after reported drone activity.

An overnight report into the Gatwick chaos suggested the police investigation had shifted towards a theory that a disgruntled former or current employee had been at the controls of the drone in December.

That incident led to the Sussex airport closing for 33 hours, causing around 1,000 flights to be cancelled and wrecking the travel plans of 150,000 passengers.

Officers have collected 130 witness statements and made 1,100 door-to-door enquiries, pulling in other police forces to help, The Times reported.

The witness statements suggested the drone was operated by someone who knew the airport layout well. The attacker hid the drone behind buildings where it could not be taken down by anti-drone equipment.

The operator also knew to fly the drone past air traffic control, where a ban on mobile phones would keep people from filming it.

"[The drone pilot] knew the blind spots for it, where it could not be 'hit'," a government official told the paper. "It was clearly someone with really good knowledge of Gatwick, someone who had worked there. Hypothetically, it could have been a disgruntled employee."

Police did not respond to a request for comment.

In an effort to limit the impact of drone activity on airports across the UK, the Department for Transport has announced new legislation to extend the no-fly zone for drones around airports will come into force next month.

The gadgets will be banned from being flown within five kilometres of airports from 13 March.

Under current laws only a one-kilometre restriction is in place.

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