You would hope that anyone who owns a drone would be aware, on some level at least, that they should not fly it near an airport. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, as demonstrated in this incredible video from NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services.
In an amazing visualisation of data, the video demonstrates exactly what happened to air traffic control at Gatwick Airport on the afternoon Sunday July 2nd, when a drone was spotted near flight paths into the airport.
Short answer: a snarl-up. It was quickly agreed to suspend landings, and all inbound flights were directed into a holding pattern. In the video you can see this happening in real time, as more planes come in and more and more flights are affected.
As the incident rolls on the holding areas begin to fill, and some planes divert to other airports due to fuel concerns. The knock-on effect means delays extend well into the evening despite the runways only being actually closed for 14 minutes.
Such incidents have been on the rise as drones have grown in popularity – the UK Airprox Board, which monitors instances of proximity between drones and aircraft, reported 70 in 2016, up from 29 in 2015.
If you’re a drone owner, it’s important to fly responsibly. Take a look at dronesafe.uk for more, where you can get hold of a free app to aid responsible flying, available for iOS and Android.