Teens caught fly­ing drones near air­port

Po­lice con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion af­ter UAV group gets too close to DXB

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali Al Shouk @alial­shouk

A group of teenagers had their drones con­fis­cated and could face le­gal ac­tion af­ter po­lice dis­cov­ered them fly­ing the de­vices close to Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The alert is the lat­est in­ci­dent over UAE airspace, although it did not cause the hugely dis­rup­tive shut­downs that pre­vi­ous in­cur­sions have. Dubai Po­lice said the force and the air­port is us­ing radar and po­lice pa­trols to track drone users be­fore they spark chaos.

Dubai Airports and Emi­rates Air­line last week urged the au­thor­i­ties to act fol­low­ing the shut­downs in Oc­to­ber, Septem­ber and June.

Both or­gan­i­sa­tions said airspace clo­sures have cost them and the econ­omy mil­lions of dirhams in losses.

Gen­eral Khalil Ibrahim Al Man­souri, As­sis­tant Chief of Dubai Po­lice for Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions, said: “We are im­ple­ment­ing strict or­ders by the chief of po­lice to step up pa­trols around the air­port to pre­vent drones en­ter­ing the flight path airspace.

“We spot­ted sev­eral drones near Dubai Air­port re­cently and man­aged to iden­tify and ques­tion the own­ers. They were young peo­ple prac­tis­ing their hobby but they didn’t have a li­cence to fly a drone.

“They told us it’s just a hobby – but such hob­bies can cause mil­lions of dirhams in losses, even if the air­port is shut for a few min­utes.”

Al Man­souri added: “We con­fis­cated the drones and told them it’s for­bid­den and il­le­gal to use the drones near the air space of the air­port.” He de­clined to say how old the teens were and how many were ques­tioned. He did say the force is con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion against them. Gen­eral Ahmed Mo­hammed bin Thani, As­sis­tant Chief of Dubai Po­lice for Port Af­fairs, said a team has been formed with Dubai Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (DCAA) and Dubai Airports to com­bat drone in­cur­sions. He said: “The com­mit­tee will find so­lu­tions in or­der that the air­port will not be shut again. These drones fly for 10 to 20 sec­onds up to 300 feet up and it’s hard for po­lice to spot [from the ground]. “If the air­port’s con­trol tower de­tects any strange or un­fa­mil­iar ob­ject mov­ing within three miles of the space al­lo­cated for land­ing and take off, air traf­fic is halted im­me­di­ately.” He said it is up to po­lice to en­sure the drone is in­ter­cepted be­fore that clo­sure hap­pens. Last week, Adel Al Redha, Emi­rates’ Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Chief Op­er­a­tions Of­fi­cer, urged the “au­thor­i­ties to take strong mea­sures and im­pose penal­ties to dis­cour­age fu­ture oc­cur­rences and also con­sider im­ple­ment­ing drone de­tec­tors at the air­port”. He said 5,000 Emi­rates pas­sen­gers alone had been caught up in the clo­sure on Oc­to­ber 29, and the clo­sures had “cost Emi­rates air­line mil­lions of dirhams on each oc­ca­sion”. ali.shouk@7days.ae

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