Management at Manchester Airport shut down one of its runways yesterday after receiving alerts that a drone had been spotted flying nearby. A spokesperson said the sighting of the drone in the airport’s air-space had forced a temporary closure as the safety of passengers was of the utmost importance.
He continued by saying as the reports indicated the drone was in the environs of Runway 1 it was closed, but Runway 2 stayed open. The spokesperson continued by saying some flights were delayed and four incoming services were diverted to East Midlands and Liverpool airports.
The representative noted that Greater Manchester Police searched the area with a helicopter, but were unable to find any signs of an airborne drone. Commenting on the scare, NATS air-traffic control manager at Manchester, John Mayhew, said flying drones anywhere near airports was dangerous and totally unacceptable.
He noted that even this one drone sighting had disrupted flights and caused major inconvenience to passengers. Mr Mayhew finished off by saying police officers would be conducting a thorough investigation into the incident.
As the popularity of radio-controlled aircraft has grown, so have the number of incidents in which near misses with aircraft have been reported. The pilot of an Airbus A320 approaching Heathrow Airport last July said he saw a small airborne object less than 10-metres away from the aircraft.
An official investigation into the incident revealed that it was a drone. Regulations mandated by the Civil Aviation Authority state any remote-controlled aircraft cannot be flown beyond the operator’s field of vision or within 50-metres of people, vehicles or buildings.