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21 - Jan - 2019

38-Year-Old Man Charged with Flying Drone near Heathrow Airport

George Rusu, 38, has been charged with flying a drone on a field near Heathrow’s runway on Christmas Eve, and days after Gatwick Airport shut down its runway due to drone activity.

The incident happened three days after Gatwick fully reopened on December 21. More than 1,000 flights were affected during the shutdown.

Rusu is expected to appear before Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on Tuesday to answer charges of flying a “small unmanned aircraft without permission of air traffic control”.

An investigation conducted by UK Airprox Board (UKAB) revealed that between July and October 2018 there were 18 near misses between aircrafts and drones across Britain.

Drone sightings caused major service disruption at Gatwick Airport during last year’s Christmas period. It affected about 140,000 passengers.

Heathrow also experienced service disruptions due to drone sightings on January 8. Thousands of passengers were left stranded after flights were grounded.

The Metropolitan Police launched investigations after the sightings however, no arrests have been made over the Gatwick incident since a couple was released without charge shortly before Christmas.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the government would ban flying a drone within three miles of an airport.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow have invested in anti-drone hardware that can detect, track and ground drones. The AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System) will help to stop drones from being used by terrorists, espionage or other malicious activities.

The transport department has also announced that it is planning to introduce new police powers and safety rules that will help to combat misuse of drones.

By Airport Pickups London