Drone grounds flights in Dubai
Disruption at airport as no-fly zone is breached again
An investigation is under way after a drone grounded flights at Dubai International Airport for more than an hour yesterday.
The incident caused disruption to dozens of flights, with some planes arriving nearly four hours late. Four international flights were diverted. It is the second time in 18 months that a drone has shut down the airport.
Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), told 7DAYS: “An investigation will determine the identity of the owner of the drone. The drone user has broken all UAE laws regulating drones.
“There are restrictions to where drones can fly. Drones can’t be operated within a certain radius of an airport.”
Many passengers found themselves stuck in departures.
Savio Saldanha, who was travelling to Doha, said: “The flight was at 2.15pm, it was then moved to 4.15pm. Then it was moved to 5pm. I was flying for a meeting and now that has also been delayed.”
Another passenger, Nav, from Pakistan, was flying to Karachi for a funeral. He was on an Emirates flight at 2.30pm, which was delayed to 4.45pm.
“I had to be at the funeral in Pakistan but was delayed,” he said. “I have a 2am flight back to Dubai. They moved the funeral just for me from Sunday morning to Saturday afternoon. I feel very bad to have not been there on time.”
Following the incident, Dubai Airports said in a statement: “Dubai Airports airspace around Dubai International was closed for 69 minutes, 11.36am to 12.45pm, due to unauthorised drone activity resulting in a number of delays and flight diversions.”
The statement added: “Dubai Airports is working closely with its stakeholders to restore operations and minimise customer inconvenience. “Safety is our top priority and Dubai Airports reminds all UAV [unmanned aerial vehicles] operators that any and all activities are not permitted unless authorised by regulatory authorities and are strictly prohibited in restricted areas, including within five kilometres of any airport or landing area.” Al Suwaidi added: “The law regulates the activities of the civil aviation industry. “The law prohibits all acts that may endanger aircraft, airports or any aviation services facilities.” In February this year, the GCAA called upon light air sports enthusiasts to practice their hobbies in designated clubs accredited by the authority in order to maintain their security and safety. In April of this year the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) also revealed a number of no-fly zones for drones including a ban on using the devices near airports and royal palaces. And 7DAYS reported how an incident in January 2015 saw Dubai International Airport’s airspace shut down because of an unauthorised drone flying into the restricted area. It led to a rethink for the authorities. Michael Rudolph, head of aviation regulation and safety, said the 2015 incident cost the Dubai economy $1 million each minute it was closed.
DELAYS: Departures yesterday, and below the Dubai Airports website (left) and departure gates (right) show the impact of the incident