Heathrow, Gatwick investing in anti-drone technology

An EasyJet Airbus 320-214 aircraft prepares to land at London Gatwick Airport, south of London, on December 21, 2018, as flights resumed following the closing of the airfield due to a drone flying. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019

Heathrow, Gatwick investing in anti-drone technology

  • The British army was deployed to London Gatwick on December 20 after the airport grounded all flights
  • Two people, a middle-aged couple who lived near Gatwick, were arrested over the suspected "criminal use of drones" but later released without charge

LONDON: Britain's two biggest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, are investing in anti-drone technology following severe disruption at Gatwick caused by drone sightings in the run-up to Christmas, spokesmen said on Friday.
The British army was deployed to London Gatwick on December 20 after the airport grounded all flights, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded over some of the busiest days of the year.
"We have invested several million pounds (dollars, euros) in providing ourselves with the equipment and the technology that the armed forces deployed over Christmas," a Gatwick Airport spokesman told AFP.
He said investment was made "in the days immediately after" the disruption but declined to give details, saying only that it had "equivalent capabilities" to the technology used by the military.
A spokesman for London Heathrow, Britain's biggest airport, also said they would be investing in anti-drone technology.
"The safety of our passengers and colleagues remains our top priority. Working closely with relevant authorities including the Met Police, we are constantly looking at the best technologies that help remove the threat of drones," he said.
Two people, a middle-aged couple who lived near Gatwick, were arrested over the suspected "criminal use of drones" but later released without charge.
The police were criticised for their handling of the incident after a detective admitted it was a "possibility" that no drones had actually been in the area - despite the discovery of a damaged device near the airport perimeter.


Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

Updated 22 September 2020

Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

  • Heightened danger particularly acute among over-65s
  • WHO identifies flu season as acute threat given COVID-19 spikes

LONDON: Infection with flu and coronavirus at the same time more than doubles a person’s risk of dying than if he or she only had COVID-19, according to research released by England’s highest public health body.

Research conducted by Public Health England (PHE) found that those with flu and COVID-19 were 2.27 times more likely to die than those who just had COVID-19, and 5.92 times more likely to die than those who had neither.

Researchers found that those aged 65 and over were at greatest risk. Most cases of co-infection were in older people, and more than half of them died.

The paper describes the possible impact of COVID-19 alongside seasonal flu as a “major concern.”

Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE, said: “If you get both you’re in some serious trouble, and the people who are most likely to get both of these infections may be the very people who can least afford to in terms of their own immune system, or their risk for serious outcomes.”

The paper found that people with flu were less likely to test positive for COVID-19, but Doyle said this should not be taken as a reassurance.

Some countries in Asia have pre-emptively rolled out early and more aggressive flu vaccination programs this year to prevent complications caused by co-infection.

But others, such as Poland, have been struggling to secure flu vaccines due to shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The upcoming flu season has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a particularly acute threat, given that many parts of the world are already experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infections.

“We’re starting to see worrying trends in some countries,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19. “We’re seeing increases in hospitalizations, in intensive care units … That’s worrying because we haven’t seen the flu season yet.”