Gatwick Airport drone incident

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by Bald Rick, 19 Dec 2018.

  1. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Anyone know what’s going on at Gatwick tonight? The skies above Kent and the channel are chock full of planes in holding patterns, and both Luton and Stansted are filling up rapidly with diverts.

    EDIT: news reporting a drone near the runway....
     
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  3. atillathehunn

    atillathehunn Established Member

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    Two drones, according to the news just now. Going to be quite the mess in the morning. Lots of easyJet flights scattered across Europe, and BA diverted, a few LHR and a bunch to STN.
     
  4. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    The Minister for Aviation has this morning said that they are not ruling out the possibility of this being a deliberate attempt at sabotage.
     
  5. Jack15001

    Jack15001 Member

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    I don't think there is much doubt that this is a deliberate act.
     
  6. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The question is whether it's a new form of terrorism (and if you're going to have terrorism it's rather better that it cancels a load of flights than kills people, I'll be honest, though obviously I'd rather have none at all) or just some kids pratting about who are soon likely to discover that certain categories of pratting about have life-changing consequences.
     
  7. Jack15001

    Jack15001 Member

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    I suspect the latter is more likely. Will the police ever find those responsible? These drones can be controlled from miles away.
     
  8. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    Gatwick sounds like it has been an absolute mess and still going on today.
     
  9. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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  10. YorkshireBear

    YorkshireBear Established Member

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    If a civilian drone can cause this much disruption, surely we should be pushing for much better controls on them. Seems to be causing absolute chaos.
     
  11. Jack15001

    Jack15001 Member

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    It does seem quite extraordinary that somebody, possibly a child, can cause this much disruption with a drone.
     
  12. TheEdge

    TheEdge Established Member

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    I suspect we are about to see the laws related to drones go from their current style to something much more traceable, like serial numbers registered to owners, much like guns.
     
  13. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

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    That only works with accurate information on the register. It works for motor vehicles because they are relatively valuable and highly visible. Guns are easy to track due to the materials involved, which often have few other uses (if any). Given how cheap some drones are, the register might be worth little more than the paper that its paperless version printed on.

    For the authorities, it's a case of good luck because you're going to need it!
     
  14. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

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    ... and that's before you have to be concerned about promoting copycats. Which is why the level of media coverage is cause for concern.
     
  15. gsnedders

    gsnedders Established Member

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    Also it's not that hard to make yourself a drone that works well enough to cause chaos to aviation. No, it probably won't be super controllable, but you don't need great control: you just need to be close enough to the flight path to cause concern.
     
  16. Iskra

    Iskra Established Member

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    I'm amazed signal jamming technology hasn't been used yet.

    I think these people are sick, ruining peoples christmas plans. Hope they get a lengthy prison sentence when caught.
     
  17. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

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    I think technical measures are needed, including physical interception - jamming can only get you so far.
     
  18. Butts

    Butts Established Member

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    I empathise with all the people affected by these drone incursions.

    Hopefully the morons responsible will be apprehended and face the full force of the Law.

    Imagine if they get hit for consequential damages.

    Life imprisonment would serve as a suitable deterrent to discourage similar "attacks" in the future
     
  19. ModernRailways

    ModernRailways Established Member

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    No civilian drone could do this. This has to have been professionally done, civilian drones have geo fenced restrictions which limit where you can fly. And if it's a small hobbyist style racing drone (rather than the likes of DJI Mavic/Phantom) it would've been much easier to find the culprit. No child could do this, because of the restrictions on the consumer drones.

    This is highly likely a professional. They're likely programming the drone to go via certain coordinates then they themselves are moving, put the drone in the air for 15 minutes and that gives you 15 minutes to get to a new location. You also don't need to control the drone manually for that, just a simple GPS so that it knows where it is. Tell it to fly between coordinates following X path and you're sorted. Stick a camera on it so you can check on where the authorities are and you're sorted. They could be using multiple drones and once the battery runs out letting them just fall. From what I've gathered it's not constantly there, it's just that when they've been preparing to reopen the runway it gets spotted again.

    There aren't many ways you could take down a drone like this if it's so professionally done. Shooting it out the sky is incredibly risky as if you miss then you have a stray bullet falling out of the sky, and the majority of other tools aren't approved for use over here.

    No amount of registration would help this as it's likely been custom built.
     
  20. Jack15001

    Jack15001 Member

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    Chris Grayling mentioned something about a possible five year jail term for those responsible but seriously, nobody is going to get life for it.
     
  21. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

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    Possible, but even that would need proof that at least one aircraft was endangered.
     
  22. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

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    I'm wondering what we're not being told (about the Gatwick situation)...
     
  23. MadCommuter

    MadCommuter Member

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    Interesting, thanks for posting.

    What happens if they can't find the culprit, but the drone keeps reappearing? Some solution for this needs to be found and quickly. So many ruined holidays and Christmases.
     
  24. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    Its been mentioned on the news that its something of a more professional nature . However it is possible to modify the firmware on the civilian stuff and circumvent the geofencing .
     
  25. ModernRailways

    ModernRailways Established Member

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    I've a feeling we're not being told the full truth about the situation so who knows. They've deployed the military to assist so that leads me to believe there is something bigger going on here. There's been 3 sightings of a drone when I last read about it, 3 sightings (with no evidence - pictures/video etc) to close a runway/airport for almost 24 hours in a country that spends billions on defence and yet we can't even stop a drone? Something just seems really off about the whole thing to me.

    It's possible, but most people won't know you can. So I'd argue you'd need to be more of a professional to do such a thing. It also shows intent if you try and go around the software block. But as you say it's been reported that it's something of a more professional, industry/military style grade of drone.
     
  26. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    they should be hung, drone and quartered
     
  27. Jack15001

    Jack15001 Member

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    And of course those responsible would have to be apprehended and the police seem to be nowhere nearer doing that. I just wonder how long this situation is going to continue?
     
  28. Tim R-T-C

    Tim R-T-C Established Member

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    The whole story is so very bizarre.

    Assuming there have been three separate sightings of the drones it is obviously a deliberate move. One of them was apparently only 45 minutes after the runway re-opened at 3.15 am, so if the drone operator was able to react that quickly and at that time in the morning, they are clearly moving with intent.

    The possible options I can think of:

    1) Relatively harmless but disruptive:
    Environmental or anti-third runway protestor - who, given the massive outrage from their actions, has decided to keep quiet.
    Prankster - maybe once, but coming back twice more, including daylight when there is a large police presence.
    Youtuber hoping to film a military response shooting down their drone - but surely they would do this during the day?

    2) Dangerous:

    I know that police have apparently ruled out terrorism, but I'm not sure how at this stage, unless they know a lot more than they are letting on, or are just trying to avoid panic.

    In Syria, Russian airbases were attacked earlier this year by explosive laden drones which caused damage to several aircraft and has been blamed on IS terrorists. Managing to hit an aircraft in flight with an explosive laden drone would have horrific consequences.

    Even without access to explosives, it would be pretty easy to make a large drone a really dangerous target - the drone alone could cause major problems for a small aircraft - put a container of flammable liquid or ink on it and you have a highly serious incident right there.


    Of course the other option is mass hysteria. As mentioned above, we have no images of these drones and twice they were seen at night. Could the first sighting have been real, followed by later mistaken identity sightings by jumpy security? Could even the first sighting have been mistaken - it was after 9pm at night and at the airfield boundary? Was it phoned in (maybe by a prankster) or seen by an aircrew or security officer?
     
  29. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

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    I've got a similar sense as well - something is definitely not quite right. I'm just waiting for the authorities to name the bogeyman as their prime "person of interest".

    Or is something more sinister going on? Like a foreign agent perchance?

    Or a blackmailer perchance (my guess)?

    Possibly, I either read or heard on the news that the lithium ion batteries fitted to drones could themselves further endanger an aircraft in the event of a drone/'plane collision. Also the weight of the drone could do some serious damage.

    Also quite plausible; someone (wrongly but in good faith) thinks he has seen one, calls a colleague who isn't sure but thinks he is right and it goes from there. It may also be an unusual bird or a meteorological anomaly combined with a heightened state of alert.
     
  30. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    I would hope with this level of disruption that the sighting was confirmed by more than one person and hopefully by someone in either a cockpit or a control tower .
     
  31. MadCommuter

    MadCommuter Member

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    I saw reports that the police had seen the drone.
     

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