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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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People told to report illegal use of drones amid concerns Irish airport could be hit like Gatwick

Hundreds of flights were cancelled and more than 100,000 passengers affected.

THERE ARE CONCERNS an Irish airport could be impacted by drones in the same way Gatwick Airport was affected yesterday.

There was massive disruption at the London airport, which only operates one runway, all day as a result of drones flying overhead.

The vast majority of the 110,000 passengers due to fly to or from the airport yesterday were affected as at least 800 flights were cancelled and a number of others diverted or delayed.

A further 10,000 passengers were affected on Wednesday night. It’s understood the disruption was deliberate and Sussex Police said the drones involved in the incident were “of an industrial specification”. 

The British Army was called in to help address the situation. 

The chaos has sparked concerns that a similar incident could happen at an Irish airport.

Earlier this year, legislation in the UK banned all drones from flying above 400ft (120m) and within 1km of airport boundaries.

There are similar rules in Ireland. Since December 2015, all drones weighing over 1kg must be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

As of this week, 11,197 drones were registered. 

Under the Irish Aviation Authority (Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets) Order, drones are not allowed fly in civil or military controlled airspace or within 5km of an aerodrome or airport unless the aerodrome operator has given permission, and no higher than 400ft above ground or sea level.

shutterstock_610298258 File photo Source: Shutterstock/Kletr

A drone operator must also not permit that the aircraft be operated:

  • so as to cause a hazard to another aircraft
  • in the vicinity of aircraft manoeuvring in an aerodrome traffic circuit
  • in a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger life or cause damage to the property of others

A spokesperson for the IAA told TheJournal.ie: “We strongly encourage people to take a drone-user course, in order to help ensure that they operate their drone in a safe manner and in compliance with the regulations.”

The European Commission is currently developing new regulations in this area.

Gardaí 

The IAA advises members of the public to report any suspected illegal use of drones to An Garda Síochana for investigation.

The organisation also operates ‘no-drone-zone’ campaigns at Irish airports. 

In July 2016, Cork Airport was the first airport in Ireland to launch such a zone. 

“Cork Airport has developed local procedures for the reporting of drone incidents and protocols for responding to drone incidents in conjunction with the Airport Police, IAA Air Traffic Control (ATC) and An Garda Síochana.

“Proactive measures are taken annually by Cork Airport Management to promote drone safety within Cork Airport and to educate the wider community on the safe and responsible usage of drones and the regulations in place at Irish airports,” a spokesperson said. 

A Dublin Airport spokesperson told us: “The safety and security of passengers, staff and other airport users is Dublin Airport’s key priority, but we never comment on specific security matters.”

The airport launched a no-drone-zone campaign in February 2017. 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin 

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Órla Ryan

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