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Pilots are calling on the government to introduce better regulation around drones after an incident at Gatwick forced five flights to be diverted.
A drone flying close to aircraft at the London airport led to the runway being closed for two periods of nine and five minutes on Sunday.
Easyjet diverted four of its flights and British Airways had one go to Bournemouth. Other flights had to fly holding patterns as a precaution.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) wants better education for users, compulsory registration during which the rules are made clear and more high profile prosecutions for offenders.
“Yet another incident at Gatwick involving drones shows that the threat of drones being flown near manned-aircraft must be addressed before we see a disaster,” said BALPA Flight Safety Specialist, Steve Landells. “Drones can be great fun, and have huge commercial potential, but with a significant increase in near-misses in recent years it seems not everyone who is flying them either know or care about the rules that are in place for good reason.“While we take no issue with people who fly their drones in a safe and sensible manner, some people who fly them near airports or densely populated areas are behaving dangerously.”
He added a collision, particularly with a helicopter, has the potential to be catastrophic, so government should look at solutions such as geofencing or putting measures in place for police to identify drones.