Gatwick live updates: Police arrest man, 47, and woman, 54, over drone chaos as flights resume – The Sun
By James Cox and Holly ChristodoulouInvalid Date,
POLICE have arrested two middle-aged Gatwick drone gang suspects – after a cyclist was spotted "frantically" packing two drones into a bag near the airport.
The man and woman, aged 47 and 54 from nearby Crawley, were held by cops on Friday night after another day of travel chaos caused by suspected eco-warriors.
Sussex Police said today: "A 47-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, both from Crawley, were arrested in the town on suspicion of disrupting services of civil aviation aerodrome to endanger or likely to endanger safety of operations or persons.
"They remained in custody at 11am on Saturday."
The Christmas getaway hell saw 1,000 flights cancelled or diverted – affecting 140,000 passengers – since Wednesday night.
And travellers are now being warned to expect a fourth day of chaos as Britain's second biggest airport re-opens today.
Christmas chaos at Gatwick, what we know so far…
- Cops arrest man, 47, and woman, 54, from Crawley after 1,000 flights cancelled or diverted
- The Sun revealed how a cyclist was spotted "frantically" packing two drones into a bag near the airport
- Gatwick fully open with 757 flights scheduled today – but passengers warned of some disruption
- Planes were grounded yesterday after a drone was sighted again over the airfield
- The Army deployed 'drone killer' tech used in fight against ISIS jihadis to bring down the machines
- ‘Eco warriors are suspected to be behind attack as possible protest to airport expansion
- Thousands are set for refunds and compensation after flights cancelled or delayed
It comes as driver Paul Motts, 52, told The Sun how he spotted the man "in this 30s and in hi-vis clothing" in a country lane four miles from the runway on Thursday night.
The EDF Energy manager said: “I was delivering a parcel and drove past a suspicious man in fluorescent cycling gear crouching over a large drone which was all lit up.
“It was a big thing with lights on its arms and roughly 4ft across.
“He had a smaller drone, about 2ft across, next to him.
“He was leaning over and doing something to it. He was totally focused and did not look up when I drove past.
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“It looked like he was packing the drones away. Two minutes later we turned around and came across him cycling away.
“I expect he wanted to disassemble the drone as quickly as possible and get away as fast as he could.
“It was pretty weird considering what had happened at the airport during the day.”
Sussex Police confirmed last night they had arrested a man and a woman after raids were carried out "in the Gatwick area".
Police Superintendent James Collis said: "As part of our ongoing investigations into the criminal use of drones which has severely disrupted flights in and out of Gatwick Airport, Sussex Police made two arrests just after 10pm on 21 December.
"Our investigations are still ongoing, and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones by deploying a range of tactics.
"We continue to urge the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick to be vigilant and support us by contacting us immediately if they believe they have any information that can help us in bringing those responsible to justice."
The runway at Gatwick reopened this morning but passengers are urged to check their flights before travelling as as delays and cancellations are set to enter a fourth day.
Gatwick Airport drone chaos latest – Two arrested after disruption causes misery for thousands with delayed and cancelled flights
A handful of flight that are due to arrive at Gatwick today have been cancelled, according to the airport's website, which include an easyJet service from Milan-Linate and a TUI flight from Bridgetown, Barbados.
A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: "Our runway is open and we aim to run a full schedule on Saturday December 22 – 757 flights scheduled today, carrying 124,484 passengers.
"Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover our operations following three days of disruption and are advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport.
"Safety is Gatwick's top priority and we are grateful for passengers' continued patience as we work to get them to their final destination in time for Christmas."
The airport had reopened yesterday morning after 33 hours and 760 cancelled flights but planes had to be grounded again following a second drone sighting.
The chaos meant the Army employed "drone killer" tech used in fight against ISIS as the cat and mouse game between the moronic drone pilot and authorities continued.
The £2.6million technology uses a radio frequency jammer to crash drones.
The Israeli-made devices feature four radars covering a six-mile radius.
They were used in the fight against IS in Mosul last year. The Army has bought six for £15.8million.
Speaking on Friday, chief executive of the airport Stewart Wingate said the drone flights were "highly targeted" and have "been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas".
He added: "These events obviously highlight a wider strategic challenge for aviation in this country which we need to address together with speed – the aviation industry, Government and all the other relevant authorities.
"It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way.
"This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again."
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has halted plans to introduce laws regulating the use of drones in Britain despite being warned about the risk they pose to airports, The Times reports.
The plans for a draft bill aimed at controlling drones and developing technology to stop them from being used near airports was quietly ditched this year.
Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, accused Gralyling of ignoring "well-known risks" from drones
He told The Times: "The government has glaringly failed to heed the warning and bring forward the legislation that was promise more than a year ago.
"Once again, there is a lack of leadership from the transport secretary."
To catch Xmas drone grinch
THE Sun today offers a £10,000 reward for anyone who helps get the Gatwick drone wolf arrested and convicted.
Britain’s second busiest airport was paralysed for 36 hours causing Christmas mayhem for 200,000 passengers.
The drone was flown over the runway up to 50 times, leading to 760 flights being grounded or diverted. Experts say it could bring down a jet.
Anyone with information should call Sussex Police on 101 quoting Operation Trebor. Or they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Click here for full Sun Reward Terms & Conditions.
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The drone has flown close to Gatwick’s control tower and even flashed its lights at police officers in what appears to be deliberate taunts, reports The Mail.
Passengers revealed their travel horror stories as they faced further chaos at Gatwick.
Wayne McAffee and his family were due to travel to Belfast via Gatwick on Thursday after 10 days at Disneyland in Orlando.
The 35-year-old said they missed their connecting easyJet flight due to delays.
Mr McAfee said: "I'm sure (the airport and airline) are not enjoying this situation, I don't think it's their fault.
"I'm not saying it's a positive experience but there's no point getting upset. Whoever is doing the drones, I'm angrier at them."
Laura Cammarata, 27, lives in London and was due to travel to Sicily with her partner for Christmas.
She said they were booked on to a flight with Vueling on Thursday afternoon which was rescheduled for Friday, and has since been cancelled.
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She said: "We did the whole process again, we got the train, we started queuing up and at some point they said it's cancelled again.
"We're trying to rebook and they're saying they can't book us on."
The couple said the alternative flights cost "three or four times" the original £400 they paid for the flights, and they are now looking at hiring a car to drive there.
Lena Balbek, 38, a project manager from Kiev who was visiting an agency in London, has been trying to return home since Thursday.
She said her flight with Ukraine International Airlines was re-scheduled for 7pm on Friday but it has now been pushed back until 10pm.
Ms Balbek said she paid for a hotel on Thursday night and does not expect to recover the costs.
"I'm disappointed it's been pushed back but we're alive and if they tell us it's okay, then I'll feel safe," she added.
Ana Trinanes feared she may not be able to spend Christmas with family in Spain after her second attempt to fly from Gatwick was placed in jeopardy.
The 49-year-old mother-of-two first arrived at the airport at 6am on Thursday, but her flight was cancelled because of the drone chaos.
Having slept in the airport overnight with fresh flights to eventually take her to family in Galicia booked, she learned her 8.55pm flight would be delayed as she was third-in-line to check in.
The personal assistant told the Press Association: "Oh my god, I want to cry, it is unbelievable – again.
"It's just a small drone against all the police and the army and everyone. It's unbelievable."
It has since emerged that the Christmas chaos is the THIRD time a drone was flown into Gatwick airspace in the last 18 months.
Specialist equipment which has so far failed to stop the drone mayhem
- An elite police and military force is using state of the art drone killing equipment to track down the rogue remote-controlled aircraft.
- This includes a state-of-the art tracking system used by British troops to liberate Mosul from jihadis.
- The trackers will be deployed with the drone killing tech to disable the remote-control aircraft.
- It is understood the system will use 3D radars to search for drones in the area – before identifying them with tracking algorithms.
- The equipment could also have sensors built in to spot the remote-controlled aircraft visually.
- Once detected, a jamming transmission will disrupt the drone’s flight – causing a crash landing.
- However, it appears the authorities have employed a number of systems to detect the drones.
- Among the technology spotted on Gatwick Airport Police Station was a 'Drone Dome'.
- The system, costing £15.8million, uses radar and frequency jammers to find and overload a drone.
- But instead of causing the drone to crash the tech allows it to perform a ‘soft landing’ – meaning the craft can be retrieved undamaged.
Gatwick airport chaos: ‘Drone killer’ used to fight ISIS shown in action in an army training exercise video
One of the UK’s top drone experts said cops hunting the pilot could be getting the runaround from “a genius” showing off his intelligence.
Ex-Army captain Richard Gill, CEO of dronedefence.co.uk, said the technical know-how used suggested whoever is behind it could be educated to PhD level.
Mr Gill said: “He or she is just causing hell because they can and they want to test their limits. It’s the thrill of getting away with it.
“To have evaded police radar for so long suggests some serious capability."
Gatwick passengers' rage spills over as fighting breaks out in airport queues
Passengers set up temporary beds in camps amid two-hour queues for food and drink at the airport after the first drone caused havoc.
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement sympathising with passengers.
She told reporters: “Obviously at this time of year this is particularly difficult for people.”
In July, the Government restricted drones to 400ft and banned them from flying within 1km of an airport.
Recreational drones are fitted with GPS “geo-fencing” preventing them from flying near restricted airspace, including airports.
- IF your flight is delayed or cancelled you might be due compensation of up to 600 euros (£542).
- How much you'll get depends on the length of the journey and the delay in reaching your final destination.
- You also must be travelling on an EU airline or a flight that departed from an EU airport, and the cause of the disruption has to be the airline's fault.
- As the problems at Gatwick have been caused by drones, this is outside of the airlines' control, which means you won't be due compensation.
- But you might be able to get a refund of your flight, a new flight, and food, drink and accomodation at the airport
A mum-of-two said she has suffered an "emotional disaster" after spending Thuesday night on a cold floor with her eight-year-old-daughter and three-year-old son.
Yulia Hristova was meant to fly to Istanbul via Kiev at 3am on Thursday and has been at the airport since midnight.
She said: "With two kids I'm in a difficult position, I'm so tired, I'm so upset, we've had no information.
"We were sleeping on the floor, me and my children. I lost my son during the night, and a policeman brought him back."
"It's been an emotional disaster.
"I'm so exhausted, I don't want to stress out but it's very worrying. What's going to happen to us in Ukraine? What if we run out of money? Are the airline going to put us in a hotel?"
Callum Carney's plane was diverted to Manchester on Wednesday night after it sat on the runway for hours.
He wrote on Twitter: "Continuing the saga… it has now been 6 hours of sitting on the runway.
"We’ve just been told to get off the plane and are apparently being sent to a hotel."
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Ophelia Storm tweeted: "Been told we have to sort our own accommodation and transport home from Manchester airport at 1:30am, even though the airport staff and @easyJet have confirmed they were unable to sort this on our behalf.. #stranded #Gatwick."
Passenger Lyndsey Clark said she was on the journey from hell after her Gatwick-bound flight landed at Stansted.
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