Drone threat at Irish airports to be discussed at special meeting

Risk group to examine the issue following Gatwick and Heathrow incidents

The potential threat to Irish airports from drones will be discussed by officials at a specially convened meeting on Thursday.  File photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

The potential threat to Irish airports from drones will be discussed by officials at a specially convened meeting on Thursday. File photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

 

The potential threat to Irish airports from drones will be discussed by officials at a specially convened meeting on Thursday, following recent disruptions in the UK caused by the devices.

The National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group will meet to examine the implications of the UK experience for the State and what actions might be taken.

The group comprises the Department of Transport, the Irish Aviation Authority, State airports, Irish airlines, the Department of Justice, the Defence Forces, and gardaí.

“The misuse of drones is an offence, and flying drones in controlled Irish airspace or within 5km of an airport is a very serious matter,” said Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

“I have asked my department to convene at short notice a special meeting of an expert industry group to assess recent events and advise me on how we are prepared at our own airports and whether there are further things which can be done.”

Heathrow incident

On Tuesday, flights from London Heathrow were briefly suspended after a drone sighting. The incident came after more serious disruption at Gatwick Airport caused by drone sightings in the run-up to Christmas.

Nothing of a similar scale has occurred at Irish airports, although there have been a number of relatively minor incidents.

Thursday’s meeting will come as little surprise to the aviation sector, which anticipated European-wide responses following the Gatwick incidents last month.