London Heathrow Airport resumes flights after drone disruption

Authorities have resumed flights out of Britain's busiest airport after a drone spotting caused a temporary halt to departures. But the Transport Ministry said police will be given new powers to deal with rogue drones.

Heathrow Airport, London's main port of entry, on Tuesday said it had suspended all departing air traffic after reports that a drone was seen in the area.

Last month, London's Gatwick Airport halted all flights after drones were flown in restricted airspace at the airport.

What happened:

  • Only departing flights were affected.
  • Arriving aircraft were able to land.
  • Heathrow Airport said it worked with London police to "prevent any threat to operational safety."
  • A spokeswoman said the move was a "precautionary measure" while they investigated the situation.

Military to deploy systems

British Transport Minister Chris Grayling said the military "are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary."

Grayling said he had discussed the measure with the interior and defense ministers.

The disruption came hours after the government announced it will move forward with plans "to give police new powers to tackle drones misuse and abuse."

"Passengers have to be able to travel without fear of their trips being disrupted by malicious drone use," said Grayling in a statement to Parliament on Monday. "Airports must be prepared to deal with incidents of this type, and the police need the proper powers to deal with drone offenses."

Not the first time

Last month, a drone scare at Gatwick Airport on the outskirts of London grounded about 1,000 flights, disrupting travel plans for roughly 140,000 people.

Police detained a man and woman over the incident, but later released them citing lack of evidence connecting them to a crime.

Heathrow and Gatwick airports have reportedly sought to buy military-grade anti-drone systems. Drones are dangerous because they pose significant risks to landing and departing aircraft.

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ls/rt (AP, Reuters)

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