BERLIN: Global airline body IATA called on Thursday, 20 December, for steps to reduce the risk of rogue drone operations including a registry of higher calibre drones, bigger fines, and jail sentences after flights were grounded at London’s Gatwick airport.
“We look forward to accelerating the cooperation between the industry, drone manufacturers and governments to reduce the risks of rogue drone operations,” IATA said in a statement.
Alongside tougher fines and prison for offenders, IATA called for greater education for operators and technological solutions to prevent drones entering restricted airspace.
More than 100,000 passengers have seen all flights from London Gatwick cancelled after two drones were spotted flying over the airport.
The first device was spotted at around 21:00 in the night with a second following earlier this morning.
The runway at the second busiest airport in the UK was closed late on Wednesday, 19 december in response. Passengers have been warned disruption could last several days.
The disruption comes at the start of the festive period, when the airport had expected to welcome 2.9 million passengers. Further drone incursions are suspected with Gatwick saying at noon that a device had been spotted “in the last hour.” Some 760 flights were due to either arrive or depart from the airport on Thursday.
Sussex Police told passengers the incident was not thought to be terror-related but a “deliberate act” of disruption, describing the drones as of “industrial specification”.
A statement from Gatwick said: “Gatwick Airport’s runway remains unavailable because of drone sightings.
“We have advised all airlines to cancel flights up to at least 16:00 this afternoon, while keeping the situation under constant review.
“There is significant disruption at Gatwick and our terminals are extremely busy.
“We are prioritising the welfare of passengers during this very difficult time, and have teams across the airport looking after them as best we can.”
Gatwick Chief Operating Officer Chris Woodroofe said police had not wanted to shoot the devices down because of the risk from stray bullets.