Gatwick live updates – Flights suspended AGAIN as 'drone is spotted over runway' on Friday nightDecember 21, 2018
An airport spokeswoman confirmed the devastating news for passengers following three days of disruption.
She added that airfield operations had been 'temporarily suspended' due to an 'unconfirmed report of a drone sighting'.
The airport will be closed until 10pm local time tonight following the latest suspension, according to aviation organisation Euro Control.
A Sussex Police statement said: "Gatwick Airport have advised us that airfield operations have been suspended for safety reasons while reports of renewed drone activity are investigated.
"Sussex Police is supporting the airport and is proactively deploying significant resources to seek and locate the drone and its operator and to ensure the safety of the travelling public and all those in and around the airport."
The Army today brought in a "drone killer" used to fight ISIS as cops identify “persons of interest” in the hunt for the Gatwick Grinch.
Cops had claimed the net was closing on the eco warrior lone-wolf who has played a tense game of cat-and-mouse with an elite squad of police, Army and the RAF.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, from Sussex police, said detectives had narrowed down the search for the drone suspects.
Christmas chaos at Gatwick, what we know so far…
- Cops have identified "persons of interest" as net closes on Gatwick Grinch
- Army has deployed 'drone killer' tech used in fight against ISIS jihadis
- Gatwick “partially re-opened” this morning with “limited number of planes”
- But travel chaos set to continue with 155 flights cancelled and others under threat
- ‘Eco warriors’ suspected to be behind attack as possible protest to airport expansion
- Thousands set for refunds and compensation after flights cancelled or delayed
He described the drone activity as "high-end criminal behaviour", adding: "This is really malicious."
The development came as it was revealed the Christmas chaos is the THIRD time a drone was flown into Gatwick airspace in the last 18 months.
Gatwick bosses are fighting to bring the airport back to normal after the drones plunged more than 200,000 passengers into Christmas chaos for the third day running.
A total of 91 of the 412 scheduled arrivals have been cancelled, while 64 of 371 scheduled departures have been axed.
Travellers have been told to expect disruption to last until Christmas Eve with pressure mounting on the authorities to catch the rogue drone operator.
The military have assembled an arsenal which includes a state-of-the art tracking system used by troops to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, from jihadis.
The trackers will be deployed with drone killing tech to disable the remote-control aircraft.
It is understood the system will use 3D radars to search for drones in the area – before identifying them with tracking algorithms.
The equipment could also have sensors built in to spot the remote-controlled aircraft visually.
Once detected, a jamming transmission will disrupt the drone’s flight – causing a crash landing.
However, it appears authorities have employed a number of systems to detect the drones.
Among the technology spotted at Gatwick today was a 'Drone Dome'.
The system, costing £15.8m, uses radar and frequency jammers to find and overload a drone.
But instead of causing the aircraft to crash, the tech allows it to perform a ‘soft landing’ – meaning it can be retrieved undamaged.
Drone killing tech that's fighting ISIS
- An elite police and military force is using state of the art drone killing equipment to track down the rogue remote-controlled aircraft.
- This includes a state-of-the art tracking system used by British troops to liberate Mosul from jihadis.
- The trackers will be deployed with the drone killing tech to disable the remote-control aircraft.
- It is understood the system will use 3D radars to search for drones in the area – before identifying them with tracking algorithms.
- The equipment could also have sensors built in to spot the remote-controlled aircraft visually.
- Once detected, a jamming transmission will disrupt the drone’s flight – causing a crash landing.
- However, it appears the authorities have employed a number of systems to detect the drones.
- Among the technology spotted on Gatwick Airport Police Station was a 'Drone Dome'.
- The system, costing £15.8million, uses radar and frequency jammers to find and overload a drone.
- But instead of causing the drone to crash the tech allows it to perform a ‘soft landing’ – meaning the craft can be retrieved undamaged.
The MoD told The Sun Online: "We don't comment on ongoing operations."
But despite a trickle of good news working its way to hordes of passengers slumped in the airport's departure lounges – Gatwick bosses are refusing to give an exact time frame on when the disruption could end.
The airport's chief commanding officer Chris Woodroofe said he hoped it would be business as normal by the end of the day.
Flyers have been told to check with their airlines for updates before heading to the airport.
Earlier, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said 40 sightings had been reported of a "small number of drones".
Mr Grayling said it was possible that the drone chaos could have been caused by a foreign state but explained Gatwick was confident "passengers are now safe".
Today cops said they are refusing to rule out that the Gatwick chaos was caused by an environmental group.
Sussex Police assistant chief constable Steve Barry said: "It's certainly something that we would consider. Yes, I would agree that's a possibility."
He added: "We're working on the assumption that there was more than one drone operating around Gatwick in the last 48 hours.
"In terms of how many perpetrators, there's a number of lines of enquiry, there's an ongoing investigation, we're pursuing that trying to find out who has been responsible for this really malicious criminal behaviour."
He said there had been no opportunities to shoot down the drones, explaining: "We have to consider whether it's safe to do so, it has to be dynamically assessed at the time, in terms of the risk, and we have to assess whether it's going to be efficient, effective, how likely it's going to be we're going to be able to take the drone out.
"I have to say on the range of options we've got available, shooting the drone out of the sky is probably one of the least effective options."
Mr Barry said the drones could have been operated from a fair distance away, but police are focusing on "likely locations in and around the airport".
Experts say the skilled drone operator could be controlling the industrial scale craft from up to five miles away.
Gatwick's first flight since the airport was brought to its knees was a flight to Lapland this morning.
Night flights over Heathrow Airport have been approved to clear the backlog.
The saboteur has been playing cat-and-mouse with cops after shutting down Britain's second busiest airport by drones over the runway 50 times since Wednesday night.
Some 120,000 passengers on 760 cancelled flights were stranded yesterday – and chiefs warned disruption could last until Christmas Eve.
Yesterday cops said the drone Grinch was "deliberately" trying to cause Christmas chaos.
Commander Justin Burtenshaw of Sussex Police said: "Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears.
"When we look to reopen it reappears. I’m convinced it is a deliberate act to disrupt Gatwick."
One of the UK’s top drone experts said cops hunting the pilot could be getting the runaround from “a genius” showing off his intelligence.
Ex-Army captain Richard Gill, CEO of dronedefence.co.uk, said the technical know-how used suggested whoever is behind it could be educated to PhD level.
Mr Gill said: “He or she is just causing hell because they can and they want to test their limits. It’s the thrill of getting away with it.
“To have evaded police radar for so long suggests some serious capability."
Passengers set up temporary beds in camps amid two-hour queues for food and drink at the airport.
Hundreds of flights were diverted to airports across Britain and Europe, including Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux and Shannon, Ireland.
A Norwegian Air flight from New York’s JFK airport which was due to land at Gatwick at around 10am arrived a few minutes later at Doncaster’s Robin Hood airport – which became the UK's emergency airport.
Travellers then had to travel 200 miles back to London on coaches.
Prime Minister Theresa May said gave a statement sympathising with passengers.
She told reporters: “Obviously at this time of year this is particularly difficult for people.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters the Army will use their “unique military capability" to assist cops.
He added: "It goes to demonstrate how our armed forces are always there ready to support the civilian authorities."
In July the Government restricted drones to 400ft and banned them from flying within 1km of an airport.
Recreational drones are fitted with GPS “geo-fencing” preventing them from flying near restricted airspace, including airports.
Have YOU been left stranded by the drone chaos at Gatwick? Call: 020 778 24376 or email [email protected]
Can I claim compensation?
- IF your flight is delayed or cancelled you might be due compensation of up to 600 euros (£542).
- How much you'll get depends on the length of the journey and the delay in reaching your final destination.
- You also must be travelling on an EU airline or a flight that departed from an EU airport, and the cause of the disruption has to be the airline's fault.
- As the problems at Gatwick have been caused by drones, this is outside of the airlines' control, which means you won't be due compensation.
- But you might be able to get a refund of your flight, a new flight, and food, drink and accomodation at the airport
Shocking footage posted online on Wednesday appeared to show one of the drones hovering just yards away from a packed passenger plane.
A mum-of-two said she has suffered an "emotional disaster" after spending Thuesday night on a cold floor with her eight-year-old-daughter and three-year-old son.
Yulia Hristova was meant to fly to Istanbul via Kiev at 3am on Thursday and has been at the airport since midnight.
She said: "With two kids I'm in a difficult position, I'm so tired, I'm so upset, we've had no information.
"We were sleeping on the floor, me and my children. I lost my son during the night, and a policeman brought him back."