Drone grounds flights in Dubai

Dis­rup­tion at air­port as no-fly zone is breached again

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Nawal Al Ramahi @nawal_ramahi

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

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