Drones Repeatedly Ground Flights at Chinese Airport

Hand holding crashed drone | Mark Agnor, Shutterstock
Hand holding crashed drone | Mark Agnor, Shutterstock
Photo of Peter Ward
Tech Editor24 April 2017

Commercial flights being disrupted by drones is a fairly new challenge facing the travel industry, yet incidents have already been reported around the world. The problem is particularly bad at an airport in southwest China, where illegal drone flights have halted flights three times in a week.

On Friday, more than 10,000 passengers were left stranded at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport after more than 60 flights were disrupted by drones, according to the South China Morning Post.

In total, 58 flights were diverted to other airports, while four flights were forced to return to their destination.

According to the report, one drone passed just under a plane as it was landing. Police in the Chengdu district where the airport is located arrested one person for illegally flying a drone, and said an investigation was continuing, news website Thepaper.cn reported.

On Monday, 11 flights to Chengdu were diverted to other airports due to drones in the airspace. The provincial public security bureau said that drones were not allowed in the vicinity of civilian or military airports without approval, and offered 10,000 yuan ($1,450) for any information about illegal use of drones.

Drones have also been an issue for pilots in the U.K. a report released in March revealed drones were involved in two ‘Category A’ incidents – the most serious possible. Commercial airline pilots reported near misses with drones on both occasions. Another report showed that there were 3,456 complaints to police in the U.K. last year, up from 1,237 in 2015. The complaints included drones being flown over fences to spy on people sunbathing and smuggling items into prisons.

Last week, flights were suspended for a short time at Ireland’s Cork Airport, after a drone was spotted flying over the airfield. The airport has a specific “no drone zone” within 4.5km of the airfield.

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