The Gatwick Airport drone incident caused a massive shift in drone security for the rest of the world.
Back in December 2018, drone sightings at the Gatwick Airport caused flight delays and cancellations. This lasted for over a day, with plenty of stranded passengers furious on who was at fault. Because it was during the holidays, the Gatwick Airport was packed with passengers from all over. A single interruption on scheduled flights was a nightmare – the entire airport shutting down for 30 straight hours was inconceivable.
An Unfortunate Witch-Hunt
During the 30-hour lockdown, a witch-hunt occurred, with people wanting to know the responsible parties. This hunt led to the arrest and detainment of Paul and Elaine Gait. With people wanting to point the blame at someone, this unfortunate couple – who had a solid alibi – had to endure international shame and ridicule.
Over a year later, a court finalizes the verdict. The couple, who was nowhere near the airport, never owned a drone, and was at work during the whole fiasco – was not guilty. They in turn counter-sued the police officials of the area, who stormed their homes with armed men during the arrest. They claimed wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, and awarded £200,000 for their troubles.
While this particular page of Gatwick’s history is now over, the aftermath could still be felt today. Security surrounding airports are tighter than ever, especially against drone sightings. While Gatwick chose the correct route by suspending and cancelling flights in fear of a drone collision, a simple fact remains. The airport took a very long time to find the drone and operator in question. The whole affair lasted 30 hours, which is a very unacceptable timetable for such a busy period.
Today’s airports around the world now have anti-drone measures, such as nets, signal jammers, and even anti-drone birds. But will these be enough? Will the world never see such a chaotic drone issue ever again?