Heathrow has upgraded its anti-drone technology to combat the potentially-deadly threat to flight operations.
The system, which will be installed around the airport, detects active drones in the surrounding airspace “quickly and efficiently”. It also locates the drone operators and their location.
It’s been designed especially for the airport by Operational Solutions Ltd and follows the introduction last year of an extended Flight Restriction Zone to combat the menace which brought such chaos to nearby Gatwick Airport.
Drone pilots who fly their craft within 5km of the airport perimeter face arrest and a prison sentence of up to five years.
The arrival of cheap, easy-to-operate drones pose a particular threat to civil aviation with fears that they could be sucked into engines on take off or landing with catastrophic consequences.
The threat was highlighted at nearby Gatwick airport where illegal drone flights disrupted operations for several days. Environmental protestors also threatened to launch drones at Heathrow last year – although the action never materialised.
Concerned pilots regularly report the presence of drones flying near to their aircraft especially when close to the ground during take-off and landing.