Drones shut down London’s Gatwick Airport

Tens of thousands of stuck passengers wait at the North Terminal at London Gatwick Airport just days before Christmas. (AFP)
Updated 20 December 2018

Drones shut down London’s Gatwick Airport

  • There have been occasional reports of drones nearly hitting commercial airliners in the London area in recent years
  • Gatwick is a busy airport 27 miles south of central London

LONDON: London’s Gatwick Airport remains shut while police and airport officials investigate reports that drones were flying in the area of the airfield.
Passengers traveling Thursday were advised to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.
Gatwick first closed Wednesday night at around 9 p.m. (2100 GMT) when drones were sighted. It reopened at around 3 a.m. (0300 GMT) Thursday morning but shut down again in 45 minutes when drones were spotted.

A body that represents British air traffic controllers says regulators have repeatedly ignored its calls for tougher measures against drones near aircraft.
The Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers says it has urged geofencing — the use of software to stop drones flying into restricted airspace — and other counter-drone measures, but its calls "have been repeatedly dismissed by regulatory bodies."
The guild says the disruption at Gatwick Airport on Thursday is unprecedented, but "such an event will continue to be a threat until appropriate measures are taken."
Hundreds of flights have been canceled and more than 100,000 travelers disrupted at the U.K.'s second-busiest airport since drones were spotted over the airfield on Wednesday evening.
Police are scouring the area for the drone operators.
Many incoming flights have been diverted to other destinations in Britain and continental Europe. The disruption is having a ripple effect on air travel as cancelations mount.

The drone sighting came near the height of the busy Christmas travel season.
Gatwick is a busy airport 27 miles south of central London.

British police say they believe the flying of drones over Gatwick Airport is a deliberate act, but there are no signs it is related to terrorism.
Flights in and out of Britain's second-busiest airport have been suspended since Wednesday evening, disrupting the journeys of tens of thousands of passengers.
Supt. Justin Burtenshaw, the airport police commander, said: "We believe this to be a deliberate act to disrupt the airport. However, there are absolutely no indications to suggest this is terror-related."
Police say the first report of a drone over the airfield was made shortly after 9 p.m. (2100GMT) Wednesday and the last sighting around 8.45am on Thursday.
Police from two forces, backed by a helicopter, are scouring he area around the airport south of London for the drone operators.

British police say they believe the flying of drones over Gatwick Airport is a deliberate act, but there are no signs it is related to terrorism.
Flights in and out of Britain's second-busiest airport have been suspended since Wednesday evening, disrupting the journeys of tens of thousands of passengers.
Supt. Justin Burtenshaw, the airport police commander, said: "We believe this to be a deliberate act to disrupt the airport. However, there are absolutely no indications to suggest this is terror-related."
Police say the first report of a drone over the airfield was made shortly after 9 p.m. (2100GMT) Wednesday and the last sighting around 8.45am on Thursday.
Police from two forces, backed by a helicopter, are scouring he area around the airport south of London for the drone operators. London's Gatwick Airport says it expects disruption caused by drones to continue throughout Thursday and into Friday.
Flights at the major airport south of central London have been suspended since Wednesday night when two drones were reported above the airfield.
The airport statement says its runway remains unavailable because of the drones. It says all airlines have been advised to cancel flights up to at least 1600 GMT (11 a.m. EST).

It says anyone planning to fly Thursday or Friday should check with their airline before going to the airport.
The airport says it is working with airlines on plans to handle the many cancellations and delays once the runway is opened.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says the government is considering "further police powers" to deal with the threat from drones to aircraft.
Tens of thousands of passengers have been disrupted in a shutdown of London's Gatwick Airport because drones were spotted over the airfield. Police are searching for the drone operators.
May says using a drone to endanger aircraft is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. She says "we are consulting on further aspects" of legal enforcement, "including further police powers."May told reporters that "I feel for all those passengers whose travel plans have been disrupted." She said the disruption "is particularly difficult for people" as it comes during the holiday season.

 


World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 53 min 39 sec ago

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

“Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

“So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”