The Air League regards the recent disruption caused by the malicious employment of drones at London Gatwick Airport as being a serious matter of national and indeed international importance. It requires both a national and in due course an international response; knee-jerk reactions should be avoided.
The government’s response must be carefully considered and well thought out – both legally and practicably. Subsequent action must generate a real likelihood of preventing further drone disruption or the worst-case scenario of a risk to public safety or physical damage to aircraft and airports. A reaction which merely aims to deal in the short- term with the current, completely understandable, public and Press criticism and concern, should be avoided
The Air League recognises that such work will take time. There is no ‘quick fix possible’. That said, the government and regulatory authorities must recognise that this issue remains urgent. The travelling public must, at all stages, be reassured by visible steps taken by the airport, police and security services, to demonstrate extra vigilance and actions that will ensure their safety. Careful supporting narrative will also be required. If drones ever again cause major travel disruption, the public needs to have been properly forewarned.
In the meantime, it is important that no stone should be left unturned in identifying, apprehending and dealing appropriately with those responsible for their reprehensible and grossly irresponsible behaviour. If and when a prosecution is brought, others contemplating the malicious use of drones should be no left in no doubt as to the potential consequences. Suitably deterrent sentences in the criminal Courts against anyone found guilty this time may well assist in preventing future copycat behaviour.