Heathrow and Gatwick airport officials have reached out to Dubai’s Civil Aviation Authority for help in managing drone incursions onto the airfield, following two incidents in December and January that caused major air travel disruption.
“I’ve been speaking to aviation entities from Gatwick as well as London Heathrow regarding the airspace disruptions they have experienced,” Michael Rudolph, head of airspace safety at Dubai Civil Aviation, told Gulf News.
“It’s just general conversation and suggestions on what they might consider moving forward,” he added.
“We had to come up with a solution pretty quickly that allowed the flying community to have faith in the safety of Dubai airspace, and we put protocols in place where in future we could mitigate such closures.”
Rudolph was referring to a series of incidents in 2015 that caused Dubai International Airport to be closed due to drones flying near the airfield. It was one of the world’s first major airport closures linked to a drone sighting and caused flight delays worldwide.
Dubai moved quickly to introduce regulations managing drone operations in the city. Drones were restricted from certain airspace corridors, with strict punishments for offenders of jail and fines of up to AED 100,000.
In addition, all drones had to be registered and drone operators had to undergo training in order to register their vehicles and themselves to operate in the emirate.
From December 19-21, Gatwick suffered severe disruption due to drones flying near the airfield, while Heathrow had to be closed a few weeks later on January 8thfor the same reason.
“The UAE stands ready to help any entity experiencing such negative activities in their airspace. If those airports are prepared to request our advice from the steep learning curve we experienced, I’m sure we would be more than happy to share that information with them,” said Rudolph.
Drones can be a serious threat to aviation safety, impact tests by the University of Dayton Research Institute found that even small drones have the ability to tear a hole in a large aircraft’s wing.