Life at London's Heathrow Airport came to a grinding halt in the evening on January 8 when reports of a drone sent a wave of panic among the airport authorities. The Metropolitan Police received reports of a drone sighting near the Heathrow Airport, which is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, at around 5 PM on Tuesday, following which the authorities temporarily shut down the airport for departures.
The measure was taken as a precautionary step to avoid potential collision of an aircraft with the drone that was suspected to be hovering around the airport.
"We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety. As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologize to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause," Heathrow Airport wrote in a tweet.
Then, nearly two-and-a-half hours later, the Heathrow Airport was opened for departures with the airport authorities keeping a constant vigil on the situation. "We continue to work with the Met Police on reports of drones at Heathrow. We are working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, and have resumed departures out of Heathrow after a short suspension. We will continue to monitor this and apologize to anyone that was affected," Heathrow Airport added in a second tweet.
Notably, report of a drone sighting at the Heathrow Airport comes less than a month after a similar drone sighting incident was reported at London's Gatwick airport, which leads to a total shutdown of the space for two days.
Two drones were sighted hovering over the Gatwick international airport in December 2018. However, unlike in case of the Heathrow Airport, video footage and images of drones were recorded close to the runway at the Gatwick airport. While the local Police did not consider the drone sighting at the Gatwick airport an act of terror, the armed forces were called with the specialized equipment by the local authorities to help with the situation.
Eventually, the Sussex Police arrested two people in connection with the Gatwick drone incident. However, they were released soon after the police determined that they were not involved in the incident.