Drone sighting at Gatwick halts flights



I was gonna post that you beat me to it lol!


Regarding risk versus birds: fair point. However, birds hear and see. No doubt you have watched birds dive away from you. More than once I have had a hawk drop food as I got close. (Bigger predator I guess :grin:). Drones have eyes too. But only when flown LOS by responsible operators.


Sure, but they’re evil eyes. They see other aircraft and instantly do this:

Also, there’s no such thing as birds.


Back in the 90’s the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) instituted a program where all explosives sold in the US had to contain micro identifiers. Little plastic discs with a unique serial number basically. They actually were used to solve a bombing in the mid-90’s but for various bureaucratic reasons the program was stopped. Currently all firearms manufactured in the US require a serial number if they are ever sold (so I can make a gun without a serial number, but the second I go to sell it I have to SN it). Vehicles, the same.

Above a certain size/weight limit (as determined to be what is an actual risk of a catastrophic damage to an aircraft) a drone must be SN’d, and when sold the purchaser must be reported to some agency. Even for personal sales. Now when that drone turns up in something like this or (god forbid) it is fished out of the wreckage of an AC we can start tracking down the operator for the appropriate criminal and civil penalties.

If you’re thinking this sounds a whole lot like “registration,” and the fears of every 2nd amendment proponent you are absolutely right. However we have no guarantee right to operate a drone. Also every time a car is sold as an operating vehicle it is required to have the paperwork filed just as in the above case. This would be no different.

Now I will say I have no dog in this fight, as I don’t own a drone. I get this might come off as “common sense drone law’s” to others, but as a non-drone owner I don’t see it personally as a major imposition. I get there might be issues, I’m just not aware of them currently.

Oh and a suggestion on how to fix this immediate problem. As the area over Gatewick was a no-fly zone during all of this, have a swarm of autonomous hunter-killer drones. Upon launch they fly into anything that’s not another hunter-killer drone inside a geographically bounded area, and then we can go check out the wreckage. Yes that will probably kill some birds, but if you launched a swarm of say a dozen after the intruder drone, you’d probably knock it down in a few minutes and the investigation can start.


You’d probably need to implement a kind of UAS black box because most are going to be obliterated in collisions. In the UH-60 impact I posted previously, the only way they found the drone owner was because a motor landed inside the cabin after the collision, which had a serial number on it that they were able to track. Beyond that, it was turned into scrap.


I’m thinking use micro beads with a unique serial number added to the plastic stock before the drone body is cast. These days they get down to microscopic size.


IMHO, this type of knee-jerk reaction insights more bad behavior.

To quote the article that @Troll linked from March 2016,

To date, no commercial drone or consumer quadrocopter has ever collided with an aircraft in US airspace. Given that there are likely now more than 1 million UAS in US airspace, if they had equivalent flight hours to birds we might expect at least one UAS collision with an aircraft per year. However, taking into consideration human agency and the far more limited time most UAS spend in the air, the true UAS collision rate is likely orders of magnitude lower.

Also, the FAA reports any sighting from an aircraft as a near miss, legal or not. I personally have been flying my Phantom legally in a public park and had a law enforcement MD500 change course to approach my drone. It was quite obvious at the time. I was hovering at about 100 feet capturing some video, and when the helicopter decided that they wanted a closer look, I quickly descended at maximum stick down. The was not because I thought that I was doing something illegal, but because I wanted to avoid a collision. I have a PPL, have been in the multirotor hobby since its inception, and am well aware of the AMA guidelines and FAA regulations regarding the operation of UAVs. The park where I was flying in is about 15 miles from the nearest airport and is frequented by RC pilots. Was this a near miss? The pilot was probably having a bit of fun and perhaps curious. Will give him the benefit of the doubt.

I’m calling BS on the hysteria, but just like a lot of things sensationalized by the media, there will undoubtedly be some sort of needless legislation. On the other hand, it’s confusing why vendors are allowed to sell a harmful and highly addictive product that targets kids and teenagers. See Juuling. That worries me much more than will the flight that my family and I step on tomorrow be in peril from a drone collision.


I’m right there with you Dan. It boggles my mind when they cease all airborne fire fighting operations when someone catches the slightest glimpse of a drone. The crews have far more dangerous things to worry about.


I don’t know. Those fires are obviously a dire situation for the those in their path as well as the firefighters. Do not know enough to comment.

Given all that Londoners have suffered through the various terrorist attacks, it’s understandable that they are sensitive to public threat. But I would venture that anyone who survived the blitz would find the drone threat commentary somewhat humorous.


I guess my point is that there is a huge over reaction when it comes to drones reported in a wildfire area. I’m not saying that people should be allowed to fly drones in such areas. There should still be stiff penalties if they are caught, but ceasing fire fighting aircraft ops seems like a huge over reaction.

Indeed, I suspect my grandmother would have found it quite ridiculous.


We used to fly UAVs all over Afghanistan and Iraq with no problems…I’m not helping again am I…back to the coloring book. :grin:


Iraq stopped all air operations fairly quickly too lol


Yeah…I’ve seen lots of birds exhibit the dive away behavior. I think I’ve hit four or five in my career so far. I’d guess I see birds on every ten flights or so maybe (?) or every day if I’m going to LUK (LOL). But I’ve never seen a drone. I don’t know what that says about the risks since there are a lot more birds, but the statistics in that paper seem to indicate that the drone threat is extremely low. But it will happen eventually… I’m sure the reaction to that will be measured and reasonable by the FAA :rofl:

The Gatwick story now has legs of its own. Every bird will be a drone, every drone will be heading directly for an aircraft, and every passenger will suddenly be a drone expert. It’s gonna suck for all of us, and whoever did it did a bang up job of doing exactly what they set out to do. Just like how I can’t take critically ill patients to a closer airport (DCA) to the hospital because I can’t get an armed guard and go through a gateway city. Knee jerk regulations are usually the worst kind.


But the we’ll have huge birds, with brass balls, flying around the airport… Don’t know which is worse? :wink:


I disagree wholeheartedly. Kneejerk reaction, I would call it a sensible and prompt reaction.

Drones themselves are a real danger to aircraft with regards to collisions. Not to mention that it’s easy to weaponise a drone. There are plenty of you tube vids with drones firing all sorts of projectiles from flame throwers to pistols attached.

Whether it’s terrorist related or just a nut bag who thinks it’s funny to disrupt others with no physical malice intended. The simple fact is, you don’t know what the intentions of that person are and the scope of trouble, injury it can cause.

I am based at Gatwick. The world’s busiest single runway airport. Even if no intention to harm was present, the disruption and danger to lives by idiotic behavior is tremendous.

Anyone who knows London airspace will know that disruption at Gatwick can easily close most londons airports directly resulting in fuel mayday.
When this happens, its not one aircraft on a pan or mayday, its multiple and it then escalates disruption forcing more into a pan or mayday.

Put yourself, parents or children on a plane with a fuel mayday and then the thoughts that this is kneejerk reaction should be somewhat swayed.

And as a final thought. What if a drone was weaponised, and the government did nothing and there was loss of life. What would you be saying then?


I think you’re both right…
I think we need to distinguish between commercial hobby drones, and drones used as weapons.
The first is probably not a big risk. The second is indeed a big risk.
Problem is, how do you distinguish between the two?
How do you sell a gun to someone and know they won’t use it to kill people?


In my mind, there is no differentiation between the two. A non weaponise drone can cause fatalities. The disruption caused by a wayward drone in a non harmful ways can put an immense “Swiss cheese” hole in the threat model. There should be no reason for it and IMO there should be no public acceptance or downplaying of such stupid behaviour.

Take away the very real risk factor of collision, the millions incurred in costs to this disruptions ruin it for everyone. There will be extra costs involved and that has to be eventually soaked up by passengers.

Maybe its me. But I have heard enough Pans and mayday and closed airports due to something as simple as a runway change for me to shrug an event like this off.

Aircraft incidents are mostly because we can’t see the threats before they happen. We’ll I can certainly see enough here for me to vehemently disagree with the utmost of passion the thoughts that this is a kneejerk or overplayed reaction.

But again, that is my thoughts and I will graciously bow out in case of ruffled feathers.

Thanks for reading my rantings anyway


2 people have been arrested this morning but I’m driving and can’t find the link


Hopefully that will put an end to this incident, assuming they caught the right people.

At the end of the day though, this was a huge combination of a knee jerk reaction and media hype that could go on to cause even bigger problems.

The reaction to this incident (be it official, from the media or the general public), sends a loud and clear message to those that want to cause as much fear and disruption as possible. They now know that they can generate panic and bring commercial aviation to a standstill with a handful of cheap, throwaway toys.


On a side note one of the idiots where I work suggested putting in radio jammers on the approach to all airports which made me chuckle quite a lot :radio::thinking: