Drone detectors have been called in to Heathrow Airport, alongside the army, after a flying device paralysed operations on Tuesday evening, according to reports.
Crowded Space Drones which is contracted by the Government and counter terrorism police is reportedly on the ground today, helping to protect runways from interference.
Elite units employed by the company from Northern Ireland have ‘relationships’ with the Civil Aviation Authority and the FBI, its website says.
The drone that halted operations at Heathrow zoomed above the airport and towards its terminal buildings for at least five minutes before dropping out of the sky, a key witness told MailOnline today.
The first video of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) reveals how easily its rogue pilot was able to paralyse Britain’s busiest airport for an hour last night.
The airport has been branded an international ‘laughing stock’ after at least 100 flights carrying at least 15,000 passengers were delayed just weeks after Gatwick was crippled over Christmas.
The drone was seen hovering above Heathrow between 5pm and 6pm yesterday, grounding jets in case it was sucked into an engine or smashed through a plane’s windscreen.
Software engineer Harpal Randhawa, 25, filmed the drone ‘zooming’ across the sky above Heathrow unhindered for at least five minutes.
He told MailOnline: ‘I had been watching the disruption on the news and looked out of the window and saw a drone. I knew it was one straight away. It was hovering and then zooming around the perimeter and then towards the terminal buildings.
‘I’d say it was circling for around five minutes in total but then it just came down and was gone’.
A passenger on a grounded jet at Heathrow took this image – that could be the first photograph of the drone that paralysed Britain’s biggest and busiest airport yesterday
The flying object, captured on camera at around 5pm yesterday, has red and green lights to tell the pilot if it is going forwards or backwards
Software engineer Harpal Randhawa, 25, says he filmed the drone ‘zooming’ across the sky above Heathrow unhindered for at least five minutes
Flights were landing normally at Heathrow today after disruption lasting an hour
Gatwick has spoent millions installing anti-drone hardware that tracks drones and jams the signals (pictured) but Heathrow’s has not yet got up and running, it emerged today
Mr Ranhawa, who lives two miles from Britain’s busiest airport in Stanwell, called the chaos at Heathrow, which apparently has no anti-drone weapons, ‘quite ridiculous’.
He added: ‘They haven’t caught the person at Gatwick. Maybe it was the same pilot’.
A massive police operation was launched last night, with the Army immediately brought in to deploy specialist equipment to block drones, but the rogue pilot has not been found.
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye is in the firing line today as his airport admitted it has ordered millions of pounds of military grade anti-drone equipment but it is reportedly not yet in place.
Instead they have a team patrolling the nine mile perimeter of the airport looking for them, according to The Times, having brought them in the wake of Gatwick’s crisis.
Critics have questioned how a single drone could shut down Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport and the seventh busiest in the world, and why it was without the technology to stop drones getting anywhere near its runway.
One passenger caught up in the chaos called the situation ‘bloody ridiculous’ and another said: ‘Pathetic! We must be even more of a laughing stock than usual’.
A police vehicle by the perimeter fence at Heathrow after a drone was sighted near the northern runway last night grounding 100 flights
At least 100 flights carrying at least 15,000 passengers were delayed in the one hour shutdown just weeks after Gatwick was crippled over Christmas
Passengers in Terminal 2 at Heathrow airport after departures were temporarily suspended last night
Matt Charter, who was travelling back from work in Southall on the A30 in Stanwell near Stanwell, spotted what he thought was a drone above near the Southern boundary at 5.54pm.
Matt, 24, of Wraysbury, Berkshire, said: ‘Me and my colleague saw what I thought was a drone hovering in the sky.
‘We friend started filming it and we pulled over before we filming it again closely at the A30 at Stanwell.
‘It certainly was a drone as it was hovering stationary at about 300ft in the air and was flashing distinct red, green and white LED lights.
‘It was quite a surprising five minutes.’
Heathrow has declined MailOnline requests to give any details on what system it has ordered, and when it will be operational.
Potential solutions are thought to include the Israeli-designed Drone Dome, which can detect and jam communications, making them fall from the sky.
Metropolitan Police officers at the airport are reported to have been practising using ‘net’ bazookas to bring down rogue drones.
But they are not thought to be ready to use them to protect the airport yet.
The lack of technology to stop drones flying close to Heathrow has caused uproar
Drone sightings have brought chaos for thousands of passengers at Heathrow airport tonight with all flights grounded for an hour
Planes finally started to take off again shortly after 6.30pm, but it is unclear how many flights were affected after departures were halted just after 5pm. Pictured: passengers at terminal 5
Flights departing from Europe’s biggest airport were halted at the busiest time of day after a drone was spotted at around 5.05pm.
‘Astounding’ that Heathrow had no anti-drone weapons, say experts
Anti-drone measures can cost as little as £15 and Heathrow has no excuses for not having them, experts said today.
Academics and professional pilots says the airport must have known it could suffer a copycat attack after the chaos at Gatwick last month.
Police have confirmed that ‘military assistance’ has been implemented at the west London airport after flights were prevented from taking off for an hour.
But experts say the latest disruption was ‘inevitable’ and security should have been upgraded sooner.
Security consultant Will Geddes, chief executive officer of International Corporate Protection, said ‘How this was able to happen in such close proximity to Gatwick is beyond me – the threat isn’t just going to go away.
‘I continue to be utterly astounded that there were no countermeasures already in place’.
Speaking about measures airports can take to combat drones, he said that a drone can be ‘hacked’ from a distance of up to six miles.
Oleg Vornik, chief executive officer of Australian-based DroneShield, said more drone-related travel disruption is likely.
Mr Vornik said: ‘Gatwick has shown to prospective copy-cats around the world that you can easily disrupt major piece of infrastructure such as an international airport.
He added: ‘This is only the beginning, and follows on what now has been a couple of years of escalating drone incidents at airports.
‘It is critical that facilities install counter-drone protection’.
Travellers stuck in their seats on taxiing aircraft watched airport vehicles on the runway desperately hunting the drone.
The pilot of one flight to Hong Kong reportedly told passengers the drone was seen ‘at the takeoff point on the runway’. Gareth Hutchins, who was trapped on a flight, added: ‘If you think a drone is annoying, wait until you’re stuck on a non-moving plane with my 2 and a half year old for more than an hour. Pray for us.’
Another passenger said: ‘Who are the b******s behind this?’
Travel experts estimated the incident led to 40 flight delays.
Measures to install anti-drone missiles and detectors were promised in the wake of the Gatwick chaos, which crippled services in the run-up to Christmas. Potential solutions are thought to include the Israeli-designed Drone Dome, which can detect and jam communications.
Heathrow last night declined to give any details on what system it has ordered, and whether it is operational yet.
Metropolitan Police officers at the airport are reported to have been practising using ‘net’ bazookas to bring down rogue drones. But they are not thought to be ready to use them to protect the airport yet.
Last night’s chaos showed the menace is far from being thwarted. It comes barely 24 hours after the Government laid out plans to give airport workers the power to shoot down drones with net bazookas and shotguns. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling scrambled to reassure the public he had the situation under control, tweeting: ‘I have already spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary.’
He was stung by heavy criticism over the debacle at Gatwick, when more than 1,000 flights and 140,000 passengers were affected between December 19 and 21. Sussex Police arrested an innocent couple and then suggested there might never have been a drone at all, before claiming it had been a ‘mis-statement’.
Afterwards, security minister Ben Wallace pledged to deploy detection systems throughout the UK. Experts fear a large drone could bring down a passenger jet.
Yet despite police, military and transport chiefs having three weeks to prepare for another drone attack, Heathrow was forced to suspend operations at 5.05pm yesterday as a precautionary measure after ‘reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity’.
Flights resumed after an hour, and a Heathrow spokesman said: ‘Based on standard operating procedures, working with air traffic control and the Met Police, we have resumed departures out of Heathrow following a short suspension. We continue to monitor this situation and apologise to any passengers that were affected by this disruption.’
Other passengers vented their frustration. Among those stranded on the runway was former Hollyoaks actress Wallis Day, who tweeted: ‘Whoever’s flying the drone over Heathrow…. can u not.’
Student Charlie Hammond, 21, said: ‘Nobody told us a thing. Then a passenger next to me showed me her iPad. She was panicking, telling me about the drone sighting. Everybody was tapping away on their phones. Some were furious.’
David Zuelke wrote: ‘Sitting on plane on runway at Heathrow Airport. Engines turned off. Airport is closed. No arrivals, no departures.’
Gareth Hutchins revealed he was stuck on the plane with his two-year-old daughter
Planes continued to land on the south runway, but the north runway was grounded for an hour just after 5pm
Frustrated passengers have been sharing photos from grounded planes after drone sightings halted take offs from Heathrow airport for around an hour
The alleged sighting came four days after both Heathrow (pictured) and Gatwick airports reported they were investing millions of pounds in equipment to prevent future flight disruption
Heathrow airport confirmed on Twitter they were investigating a drone sighting earlier this evening
Among those trapped in the chaos was British actress Wallis Day, who took to Twitter to share her frustration
One user, who was stuck on the tarmac at the airport earlier this evening, asked ‘why do the drone people keep doing this?
Tim Gluckman asked ‘what if anything did police and ‘services’ learn from #Gatwickdrones Dec. 21-23?’
Scotland Yard say they WILL catch the rogue drone pilot
Police have vowed to snare the drone pilots who caused flights to be suspended at Heathrow airport.
The Army has been drafted in to beef up security at the airport after a drone was spotted by police officers and members of the public near one of the runways on Tuesday, grounding flights for an hour.
Scotland Yard said ‘extensive inquiries’ were continuing, and appealed for any information that may help trace the owner and operator of the drone, which was witnessed flying over Heathrow just after 5pm on Tuesday.
They said ‘significant resources’ were deployed to monitor the airspace around Heathrow while ‘military assistance’ was also being provided.
Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy said: ‘Our priority is keeping the airspace over London’s airports safe for the thousands of planes flying in and out every week.
‘Any deliberate acts to endanger the airfield and aircraft are serious offences that can carry lengthy prison sentences.
‘If flown into the path of an aircraft, a drone has the potential to cause great harm to those on-board.
‘Anyone caught illegally operating drones will be dealt with robustly.’
He added: ‘We understand the extensive frustration and inconvenience that suspending flights causes the public.
‘Anyone with information about the incident or who may have suspicions in relation to illegal drone in the area of are asked to report online or call 101.
‘If you see anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the airport, or you believe you have sighted a drone or model aircraft in the area of an airport, then please dial 999 immediately.’
He said specific operational tactics in relation to dealing with illegal drone use cannot be discussed.
US airports use frequency jammers or ‘early warning’ systems to tell air traffic control if a drone is approaching, neither of which are in place at UK airports. Heathrow, which has two runways, carries 78million passengers a year – 32million more than single-runway Gatwick.
Ministers have announced a package of measures designed to give police extra powers to combat drones. The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately three miles, with additional extensions from runway ends.
Ministers also announced that operators of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg will be required to register and take an online drone pilot competency test. Police will also be able to issue fixed-penalty notices for minor drone offences.
Fines of up to £100 could be given for offences such as failing to comply with a police officer when instructed to land a drone, or not showing their registration to operate one.
It came weeks after more than 1,000 flights and 140,000 passengers were affected in the run up to Christmas amid drone chaos at Gatwick.
Measures to install anti-drone missiles and detectors were promised in the wake of the chaos which crippled services in the run-up to Christmas.
Airport bosses have been criticised for not learning from the mistakes of last month and not investing in drone protection technology.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), said: ‘This second drone incident in less than a month has shown how important it is that airports invest in drone protection technology immediately.
‘The Government should ensure that every airport does so in the interests of public safety and should accelerate and strengthen its other drone legislation planned for later this year. It’s time to act swiftly and decisively.
‘An aircraft or helicopter collision with a drone has the potential to be catastrophic and so it’s right that Heathrow shut until it was sure flights could take off and land safely again.
‘While it may be frustrating for the passengers who are delayed, it’s their safety that must come first.’
REVEALED: Gatwick airport’s £1million military-grade anti-drone system that tracks and downs devices – as chaos spreads to Heathrow with flights delayed after POLICE see rogue craft above runway
The technology deployed by Gatwick airport bosses to prevent further drone chaos has been revealed as an advanced system used by the U.S. military that can cost as little as £800,000.
It comes after disruption spread to Heathrow when flights were halted for nearly 90 minutes when police spotted a rogue craft above the runway.
New pictures taken at the airport on Friday show the Anti-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Defence System, or AUDS for short, on the roof of the South Terminal in West Sussex.
The system was developed by three British companies, one of which – Chess Dynamics – is based in Horsham, around 14 miles from Gatwick.
One part of the new hardware, created by Blighter Surveillance Systems, is a 360-degree scanning radar which can detect micro, mini or standard drone targets.
Gatwick airport have installed a military-grade anti-drone system on the roof of the South Terminal in West Sussex to prevent further travel chaos
The radar (left) can detect normal sized drones from a distance of up to six miles away, and the inhibitor (right) stops radio frequencies controlling the drone, bringing it safely down to earth
Micro drones can be spotted from up to a mile-and-a-half away, while normal sized targets can be detected from a distance of six miles.
Another aspect of the device also uses thermal imaging to detect small drones in all weather conditions, and can also track them at day and at night.
After the drones are detected, staff at Gatwick airport can then use an inhibitor to jam the signals – or radio frequencies – used by the drone, bringing it safely down to earth.
The portable device has been used ‘in active service’ by the US army and NATO since September 2016 and has been deployed in the Middle East, the companies behind it have said.
The new technology was snapped just a day after military hardware deployed at the airport on the final day of travel chaos was removed.
That system, which is said to have a range of several miles, uses four radars to give 360-degree detection in order to identify and track targets.
Pictured: the 360-degree scanning radar which can detect micro, mini or standard drone targets, developed by Blighter Surveillance Systems
Micro drones can be spotted from up to a mile-and-a-half away using the kit, which has been used ‘in active service’ by the US army and NATO since September 2016
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said last week: ‘The military capability has now been withdrawn from Gatwick.
‘The Armed Forces stand ever-ready to assist should a request for support be received.’
Last week, Gatwick Airport revealed it had spent around £5million on new technology to stop drones disrupting flights again – but refused to reveal when it would be installed or any further details.
More than 140,000 passengers had their flights either cancelled or delayed during 36 hours of chaos at the airport between December 19 and December 21.
The cost of the chaos caused by the drones is expected to have run into tens of million pounds.
The cat and mouse game with police started as drones were deliberately flown over officers and the Gatwick control tower while flashing on-board lights before heading for the runway when officials tried to reopen it.
Marksmen were seen carrying shotguns at Gatwick – but officers said they could not shoot down the remote-controlled craft for fear of stray bullets.
The hardware has been installed on the roof of the south terminal at Gatwick (pictured), and replaces military hardware used on December 21 that was removed just days before
Video from a promotional video about the AUDS Anti-UAV Defence system shows it in action
Airports could shoot down drones with bazookas to prevent further drone chaos
Airports could be given powers to shoot down drones with net-firing bazookas under laws to prevent further drone chaos.
Drone operators will also be banned from flying within three mile of an airport and the maximum height they can fly at could be lowered.
Police would also be able to force operators to land drones flown illegally near airports and prisons.
Experts believe it is only a matter of time before a collision between a drone and a passenger jet.
A large drone could take down a passenger jet because it could shred an engine if it was sucked in or destroy its windscreen or windows, causing a sudden drop in cabin pressure.
Airport bosses have expressed frustration at not being able to protect themselves against drones.
And Britain’s most senior police chief admitted authorities need to ‘up their game’ with anti-drone technology to protect UK airports.
Labour have also accused the Government of being ‘slow off the mark’ to tackle threat from drone technology.
‘It was probably a plastic bag blowing in the wind’: Frustrated passengers take to social media to blast Heathrow drone chaos
By James Wood for MailOnline
Frustrated passengers are taking to social media to express their frustration with the Heathrow drone chaos – as hundreds are left stranded in the airport.
The north runway was grounded for around an hour after reports of drone sighting at 5pm caused all departures to be halted.
Dozens caught up in the delays have been taking to Twitter to vent their frustration with the situation.
Frustrated passengers have been taking to Twitter (above and below) to express their frustration with the delays this evening
One user, called Nadim Baig, said: ‘My luck, drone sighting and now my flight is at a standstill just before departure.’
While another, said: ‘Sitting on a plane at Heathrow. Plane not going anywhere due to drones.’
The runway has now re-opened but numerous passengers are likely to have been caught up in the situation.
One frustrated tweeted wrote: ‘Stuck on the runway at Heathrow because of a drone sighting.’
While another said: ‘Citizens of the UK should be rather worried that the presence of a real or imaginary flying helicopter toy can outwit and bring an entire airport to a standstill.’
Dozens have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the latest reported drone sighting (above and below). It comes just weeks after London’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, was severely disrupted when drones were sighted on three consecutive days in December
The incident comes just weeks after London’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, was severely disrupted when drones were sighted on three consecutive days in December.
The disruption resulted in about 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverting and affecting 140,000 passengers.
Several tweeters picked up on the chaos wrought by the drones, with one user saying: ‘The UK thinks they’re competent enough to survive complex situations like a no-deal Brexit. But they can’t even win the battle against a drone or two.’
While another, called Alastair, wrote: ‘When a piece of remote-controlled plastic can shut down the country’s largest airport, it doesn’t bode well for our ability to tough out the threatened Brexit nightmare.’
Frustrated passengers have been sharing photos from grounded planes after drone sightings halted takeoffs from Heathrow airport for around an hour