Flights resume at Heathrow following drone sighting

Heathrow Airport had suspended all departures following a drone sighting. (Getty Images)
Updated 08 January 2019

Flights resume at Heathrow following drone sighting

  • Drone had earlier been sighted at Heathrow Airport
  • Departures were suspended, while planes continued to land

LONDON: London’s Heathrow Airport, Europe’s busiest hub, suspended all departing flights for around an hour Tuesday following a drone sighting, just three weeks after a similar incident at Gatwick caused havoc.
A spokeswoman told AFP at 1835 GMT that flights at the airport, which handles 213,668 passengers a day, had resumed following the interruption.
The Metropolitan Police said they were called at around 1705 GMT and alerted to “reports of a sighting of a drone in the vicinity of Heathrow airport.”
A statement on the airport’s Twitter account earlier said: “We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety.
“As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologize to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause,” it said.
Arriving planes, however, continued to land at Heathrow.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said “the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary.”
Some 81 airlines serving 204 destinations operate out of Heathrow, located west of London.
Between December 19 and 21 drone sightings at Gatwick, Britain’s second biggest hub, caused travel misery for tens of thousands of people after flights were suspended.
That disruption came at a particularly busy time in the run-up to Christmas. It raised questions about the security of airports as well as the competence of police in charge after a couple were arrested and released without charge.
The British army had to be deployed to the airport on December 20 after it grounded all flights.
Gatwick has since said it has invested in anti-drone technology, while Heathrow said that it would do so.
In response to the chaos at Gatwick, Grayling on Monday told parliament that drone exclusion zones around British airports were being extended and operators would have to register.
Police will also be allowed to fine users up to £100 ($128) for failing to comply when instructed to land a drone, or not showing registration to operate a drone.
Grayling said the disruption at Gatwick between December 19 and 21 was “deliberate, irresponsible and calculated, as well as illegal.”
The exclusion zone around airports is currently one kilometer (half a mile) and this will be extended to five kilometers.
From November 30 this year, operators of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg will also have to register and take an online pilot competency test.


India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

Updated 49 min 12 sec ago

India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

  • Schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indians converged on a ceremonial boulevard in the capital amid tight security to celebrate the Republic Day on Sunday, which marks the 1950 anniversary of the country’s democratic constitution.
During the celebrations, schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route, followed by a military hardware display.
Beyond the show of military power, the parade also included ornate floats highlighting India’s cultural diversity as men, women and children in colorful dresses performed traditional dances, drawing applause from the spectators.
The 90-minute event, broadcast live, was watched by millions of Indians on their television sets across the country.
Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the chief guest for this year’s celebrations.
He was accorded the ceremonial Guard of Honor by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan, the sprawling presidential palace.
Bolsonaro joined the two Indian leaders as the military parade marched through a central avenue near the Presidential Palace.
At the parade, Bolsonaro watched keenly as mechanized columns of Indian tanks, rocket launchers, locally made nuclear-capable missile systems and other hardware rolled down the parade route and air force jets sped by overhead.
Apart from attending the Republic Day celebrations, Bolsonaro’s visit was also aimed at strengthening trade and investment ties across a range of fields between the two countries.
On Saturday, Modi and Bolsonaro reached an agreement to promote investment in each other’s country.
Before the parade, Modi paid homage to fallen soldiers at the newly built National War Memorial in New Delhi as the national capital was put under tight security cover.
Smaller parades were also held in the state capitals.
Police said five grenades were lobbed in the eastern Assam state by separatist militants who have routinely boycotted the Republic Day celebrations. No one was injured, police said.
Sunday’s blasts also come at a time when Assam has been witnessing continuous protests against the new citizenship law that have spread to many Indian states.
The law approved in December provides a fast-track to naturalization for persecuted religious minorities from some neighboring Islamic countries, but excludes Muslims.
Nationwide protests have brought tens of thousands of people from different faiths and backgrounds together, in part because the law is seen by critics as part of a larger threat to the secular fabric of Indian society.