Unmanned drones have become widely popular over the last several years, and a lack of legislation has left most citizens unclear about when and where they are allowed to fly them. This concerning problem led to serious issues at Gatwick Airport in Britain, and hundreds of airplanes were forced to either be grounded or diverted due to confusion over a drone.
The 47-year-old male and 54-year-old female operating the drone were both arrested by Sussex police as a result of the incident. At around 10 P.M. on December 21st, the duo was both arrested under the suspicion of disrupting services of civil aviation which endangered the safety of operations or persons. Sussex Police confirmed that the suspect’s charges could land them a maximum sentence of life in jail if they are convicted. Neither suspect has been publicly identified, but police confirmed they both lived in a neighborhood not far from the airport. They have not yet been formerly charged.
The recent drone incident showed the limitations security officials face when attempting to respond to an airborne threat at peak travel time. More than 140,000 individuals were impacted by flight cancellations and delays, and 1,000 flights were cancelled or diverted. The drone’s flight path suggested that the two suspects were deliberately endangering aircraft, passengers and the airfield, but Sussex Police declined to label the incident as terrorism. According to police, the drone first appeared at around 9 P.M. on Wednesday. Within 48 hours of the first incident, the drone had buzzed past airplanes and the airport over 40 times. The airport had to shutdown and reopen several times.