Grayling: We don’t know how to stop air­port drones

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Jack Maid­ment PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

THE tech­nol­ogy to pre­vent drone dis­rup­tion at UK air­ports does not ex­ist, Chris Grayling has warned.

The Trans­port Sec­re­tary said there was no “off-the-shelf so­lu­tion” to stop­ping drones fly­ing near crit­i­cal na­tional in­fra­struc­ture, and pre­ven­tion tech­nol­ogy was “very im­ma­ture”.

His com­ments sug­gest the Gov­ern­ment is un­able to guar­an­tee there will not be a re­peat of the chaos suf­fered by pas­sen­gers at Gatwick Air­port in De­cem­ber and at Heathrow last week.

He told Sky News: “Well, the sim­ple an­swer is, in the case of Gatwick what hap­pened there was a unique sit­u­a­tion that has not hap­pened any­where else in the world.

“Heathrow was dif­fer­ent. Heathrow was a drone that ap­peared and dis­ap­peared. Gatwick was a de­lib­er­ate dis­rup­tive at­tack. The sys­tems do not ex­ist to com­pletely tackle a prob­lem like this.” Gatwick said it had spent £5mil­lion to pre­vent fu­ture dis­rup­tion while Heathrow has said it will be tak­ing ac­tion to com­bat the threat of drones.

The Gov­ern­ment has urged all com­mer­cial air­ports to in­vest in anti-drone tech­nol­ogy.

Mr Grayling said mil­i­tary equip­ment had helped “ease the sit­u­a­tion” at Gatwick. He added: “This is a new area, the tech­nol­ogy is very im­ma­ture, there is a lot of ef­fort now go­ing into this from air­ports around the UK. We’re work­ing with them to try and find the right so­lu­tions but there wasn’t a sim­ple off-theshelf so­lu­tion that should have been in place that wasn’t in place.”

Drone sight­ings at Gatwick be­fore Christ­mas forced the air­port to sus­pend flights for more than 36 hours. Heathrow sus­pended flights for an hour last Tues­day after a re­ported drone sight­ing.

The Gov­ern­ment has pledged to give po­lice new pow­ers to crack down on il­le­gal use of drones.

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