Drones close runway at Gatwick

*UPDATED 15:00 21/12* Sightings of drones flying close to Gatwick Airport Wednesday night closed the UK’s second busiest air terminal. The runway was shut throughout Thursday. Over 120,000 people have been affected by the closure.

Commenting on the situation Thursday morning, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “The CAA is offering the following advice to passengers currently experiencing disruption at Gatwick Airport. Under EU261 regulations, passengers that no longer wish to take their flight can contact their airline for a refund. For those passengers that do still wish to fly, we advise them to contact their airline to understand the options available.

“Given the reasons for the current disruption at Gatwick Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority considers this event to be an extraordinary circumstance. In such circumstances airlines are not obliged to pay financial compensation to passengers affected by the disruption.”

Flights resumed Friday morning, albeit with disruption expected to continue for a few days.

New drone legislation in the UK

In July of this year, the UK government enacted legislation that restricts drones from flying above 400 feet or within one kilometre of airport boundaries. As part of these measures, police have more specific powers to intervene on the spot if drones are being used inappropriately. Drone users found in breach or flying negligently could face up to five years in prison, as well as an unlimited fine.

Additional requirements, which do not come into force until November 2019, will require owners of drones weighing 250 grams or more to register with the Civil Aviation Authority and for drone pilots to take an online safety test to ensure the UK’s skies are safe from irresponsible flyers.

Drone operators will also eventually be required to use a UK government app, the implementation of which will no doubt be of increased interest after this latest disruption at one of the busiest times of the year for travel.

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