The investigations into the possible origin of drone activity that caused the shutdown of London-Gatwick Airport on multiple occasions last December are still ongoing but police now says the perpetrator could have had insider knowledge.
According to police, whoever was flying the drones over airport grounds was familiar with operational protocol and security measures in place, making it likely that an insider disrupted traffic at Gatwick.
In December the operations at Gatwick Airport were disrupted several times due to drones flying inside the perimeter, causing a complete shutdown of flight activity. Airlines incurred multi million dollar damages and thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport or diverted (we wrote about it here back in December).
Now The BBC reported that local police are suspecting the inner circle of airport workers, even though no further suspects have been arrested so far.
The drone attack that caused chaos at Gatwick before Christmas was carried out by someone with knowledge of the airport’s operational procedures, the airport has said.
A Gatwick chief told BBC Panorama the drone’s pilot “seemed to be able to see what was happening on the runway”. Sussex Police told the programme the possibility an “insider” was involved was a “credible line” of inquiry.
The runway at the UK’s second busiest airport was closed for 33 hours between 19 and 21 December last year – causing about 1,000 flights to be cancelled or delayed.
In his first interview since the incident, Gatwick’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, told Panorama: “It was clear that the drone operators had a link into what was going on at the airport.”
Mr Woodroofe, who was the executive overseeing the airport’s response to the attack – the “gold commander” – also said that whoever was piloting the drone could either see what was happening on the runway, or was following the airport’s actions by eavesdropping on radio or internet communications.
And whoever was responsible for the attack had “specifically selected” a drone which could not be seen by the DJI Aeroscope drone detection system that the airport was testing at the time, he added.
Despite a huge operation drawing resources from five other forces and a £50,000 reward, there is still no trace of the culprit.
Sussex Police says its investigation is ongoing and expected to take “some months to complete”. …
Police told the BBC they had recorded 130 separate credible drone sightings by a total of 115 people, all but six of whom were professionals, including police officers, security personnel, air traffic control staff and pilots.
Apparently the drone operator(s) have kept tight lips, otherwise it’d be very possible that information had leaked to collect the £50,000 reward, which is by no means a small amount of money. Compared to the damages incurred it’s a drop in the bucked though.
After several days of hunting for clues and suspects Sussex Police arrested two individuals as “persons of interest” but released them later without charge. Soon after this story broke UK news organizations got a hold of the couples personal particulars and published them through their individual channels. The couple is now suing different entities in court over privacy violations.
Following the release of the couple there was another story out which suggested a strong possibility that there was never an actual drone at Gatwick and the eyewitness testimony not proof of anything.
This situation got completely out of control starting from the several airport shutdowns to blaming innocent members of the public and releasing their information, even calling them terrorists.
Earlier reports also said that the army has been dispatched to deal with the drone threat at Gatwick but didn’t elaborate on how what that would accomplish exactly. You gotta wonder if anything will come out of that investigation either sooner or later. Also, keeping this story in the news might motivate copycats.