A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with a string of drone sightings which brought Gatwick Airport to a standstill. They were arrested in the area at about 22:00 GMT on Friday. The airport has since reopened but flights were grounded for more than a day affecting about 140,000 passengers after drones were seen near the runway. Sussex Police said it was continuing to investigate "criminal use of drones" and appealed for information. The airport said it aimed to run "a full schedule" of 757 flights on Saturday, carrying 124,484 passengers.
LONDON - London's Gatwick Airport was operating without problems Sunday, but the fugitive drone operators who brought incoming and outgoing flights to a standstill over multiple days remained at large -- and a potential threat -- after police cleared two local residents who were arrested as suspects. Sussex Police were hopeful they had halted the disruptive and costly drone incursions during one of the heaviest travel periods of the year with Friday's arrests of a couple who live near the airport. But they were released Sunday, and police said they were no longer suspects. Tens of thousands of passengers suffered through long flight delays or were stranded by cancellations after two drones were reported seen above the airfield at Gatwick on Wednesday night, prompting an immediate suspension of all air traffic. Sussex Chief Detective Jason Tingley said Sunday he could not rule out new drone activity at Gatwick or other U.K. airports.
London's airports don't want a repeat of the drone panic that left Gatwick travelers grounded for days, and they're willing to spend loads of cash to keep their skies safe. Heathrow and Gatwick have spent millions of pounds on "military-grade" anti-drone systems in the wake of the scare. It's not clear what they've purchased, but it might be a Rafael Drone Dome system that can jam drone communications. The company told the Times that it had seen interest from UK customers, but it's not clear if that included the two airports. It's still unclear how much of a threat drones posed during the Gatwick incident, or if the owners even intended anything malicious.
The United Kingdom has sent troops to its second-busiest airport after an unprecedented attempt to cripple Christmas travel with unusually large drones forced all flights to be grounded. As tens of thousands of passengers on Thursday waited at Gatwick Airport, south of the capital, London, police hunted unsuccessfully for the operators of the large drones which reappeared near the airfield every time the airport tried to reopen the runway. Police said there was no indication of a terrorism motive behind the devices, which first appeared on Wednesday night. "The assessment earlier on today was that we wouldn't be using firearms," Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said late on Thursday. "This is continually reviewed so you will know and have seen that we have firearm officers deployed."
Police say they are still searching for those responsible for the unprecedented disruption at Gatwick Airport. But the drones that were flown over the airfield have not been captured and have not been seen since Thursday night. Endangering the safety of an aircraft is a criminal offence that can carry a prison sentence. So how will police find those responsible? If the drones were being operated by a typical remote control unit, it would be possible to establish the controller's position.