back to article London Gatwick Airport reopens but drone chaos perps still not found

London Gatwick Airport has reopened after closing for more than a day due to a seemingly deliberate drone disruption ploy – but police still haven't caught the perpetrators. The errant drones, which are of an unknown make and model according to Sussex Police, were being flown near enough to Gatwick's runway to trigger a full …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    Why is it that politicians (and pilots on PPrune) don't seem to understand that regulation only stops people who are prepared to abide by the rules?

    Criminals and terrorists will just ignore any restrictions, so the only impact will be on law-abiding citizens who already follow the existing rules.

    You cannot ban drones, anymore than you can ban encryption, the technology now exists and is widely available, it's too late.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Why is it that politicians (and pilots on PPrune) don't seem to understand that regulation only stops people who are prepared to abide by the rules?"

      It also provides sanctions against those who don't abide by them. It increases the scope of "those who are prepared" from just "those who are willing" to "those who don't want to face the sanctions". That's not insignificant.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        There are already penalties in place for anyone who disrupts or endangers air operations. No special case should be needed if they use a drone to do it with. The penalty for the existing offence just needs to be increased to punitive levels.

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Don't just do something! Stand there!

          There are already penalties in place for anyone who disrupts or endangers air operations. No special case should be needed if they use a drone to do it with.

          In the event that Something Bad™ happens, there will be cries from the voting public for politicians to Do Something™. As politicians have only one tool with which to Do Something™ (i.e. they can legislate), they use that and claim to Do Something™ even if it is completely redundant or utterly fails to address Something Bad™. If Something Bad™ continues, they will pass increasingly tough and thorough measures aimed in its general direction, being careful to note that any failure to alleviate the issue is simply an indicator its severity. In fact, it is beneficial to said pols that Something Bad™ be nebulous enough that it can be defined as an ongoing war, something that never goes away, thus providing them many election cycles where they can repeatedly Do Something™. That's the way to do it!

          1. PyLETS
            Black Helicopters

            @Robert Helpmann?? Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

            "As politicians have only one tool with which to Do Something™ (i.e. they can legislate)"

            <p>

            They have already done that. The Computer Misuse Act section 3ZA allows "The maximum sentence on indictment is 14 years, unless the offence caused or created a significant risk of serious damage to human welfare or national security, as defined in Section 3 (a) and (b), in which case a person guilty of the offence is liable to imprisonment for life."

            <p>

            What they don't seem to have done yet is carried out significant research or spending on safe drone disabling or capturing technology.

            1. Tom Paine Silver badge

              Re: @Robert Helpmann?? Don't just do something! Stand there!

              What they don't seem to have done yet is carried out significant research or spending on safe drone disabling or capturing technology.

              Of course not. Why would they? I'd be pissed off if they had, to be honest.

          2. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

            Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

            Not having that my friend, it Bad Tings™. I'd start listening to the youth. Assuming it's something juvenile, let's hope they grow out of it. #juvenal

            1. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

              Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

              You do start to wonder though, if there's no obvious motive, excluding edge case, then it's usually money oriented via distraction...

              1. RancidRodent

                Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

                As the perps of this alleged offence have ticked the no-publicity box - to my mind there are only two motives left. Financial Jihad by the usual mob or divide and rule by the government.

                1. itzman

                  Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

                  Or a probe to test security and response by....well your choice really.

                  Or an excuse to sell you high priced security kit you didn't know you needed?

                  Or just a spotty teenager and his mates having a laugh.

                  Until the type of drone is analysed we wont know what sort of person built it.

                  1. Tom Paine Silver badge

                    Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

                    Some pretty obvious inferences can be drawn from what's on the public record. The "AV companies write the viruses themselves!" bollocks is, well, bollocks. It's obviously not a test of anything. And the spotty teenager would have had his bedroom door kicked in with Standard Issue within a couple of hours, for extremely obvious reasons.

                  2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

                    "Until the type of drone is analysed we wont know what sort of person built it."

                    Until it's proven there's a drone at all.

                    Refer to the "Drone Identification guide for airline pilots": https://external-preview.redd.it/M0qJHhvERtBnYA0USEmQJH87Ydn4qF5gKtftmLgaY-Q.jpg

          3. P. Lee

            Re: Don't just do something! Stand there!

            Shoot it down with rock salt or rubber bullets from a helicopter. Fire chaff at it?

            Can you take these things out with one rotor down?

            Do we really think the operator is up for murder? That can change the approach.

            Does anyone else find the timing with the bill rather too convenient?

        2. Tom Paine Silver badge

          We don't yet have a large enough sample size of cases like this to study, from which we could draw conclusions about the deterrent effect of more severe sentences. (At the time of writing, n=0, as the perps - if any - have yet to be found or motive etc established.)

          To pick some groups who've been speculated about - jihadists, eco-whatevers, engineering students out looking for lulz, highly sophisticated criminal gangs pulling off Italian Jobs, sinister politicians conspiring with MI5 and persons confused about the best way to express their opinions about Brexit -- all have a different propensity to think again in response to another year on their possible sentence.

          Arguably, as there's no precedent for the purported attack, there's no deterrent at all. There are no previous perps they could look up and think "Hey, this guy shutdown Stansted for 18 hours and got 12 weeks and 1000 hours community service!" or "...had his goollies cut off"* , as the case may hypothetically have been.

          * With apologies to Jones, Smith and Stephenson https://youtu.be/p6aQC-1-GF4

        3. ShadowDragon8685

          Penalty seriousness is very little, if any, deterrant factor.

          Remember, y'all used to draw, quarter, and scatter folks to the four fucking corners of the isles for relatively minor crimes, but they still committed them.

          To deter crime, you have to make rapid detection and apprehension your priority, not draconian punishment.

          "High-stakes, low-risk" crime will always be common, even if the punishment when caught is summary death by the most painful and drawn-out torture mechanism the apprehending plod can devise on the spot.

        4. tapemonkey

          Surely for the danger posed it should be classed as an act of terrorism. 1 drone could potentialy bring down an A380. Just contemplate that for a second. Through one act of stupidity hundreds could have lost their lives. The perpetrators should face 15 years in prison under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And how’s that working out for you?

    2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

      "Why is it that politicians (and pilots on PPrune) don't seem to understand that regulation only stops people who are prepared to abide by the rules?

      Criminals and terrorists will just ignore any restrictions, so the only impact will be on law-abiding citizens who already follow the existing rules.

      You cannot ban drones, anymore than you can ban encryption, the technology now exists and is widely available, it's too late.

      Rubbish, this is exactly the same argument used in the USA about why tighter gun control wont stop people getting killed, "This won't work, so we shouldn't even try", and with little or no basis for such an assessment. It's defeatist nonsense in either case.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        It's defeatist nonsense in either case.

        So you think punishing or restricting the majority will make any difference to future instances like this?

        Or do you perhaps think it's possible to unilaterally ban the manufacture, sale and use of drones completely, remove all the internet content on how to bypass drone restrictions, or modify a drone for longer endurance, and get everyone to forget completely how to build, modify or fly a drone?

        If not, then this is going to happen again and again.

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          So you think punishing or restricting the majority will make any difference to future instances like this?

          I think having in place sensible controls on devices / machines which can be used in disruptive and dangerous ways will restrict this type of incident in the future. I get that this is a hobby for some people and I understand and appreciate that, however that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be regulated. My hobby happens to be very heavily policed and regulated, and entirely rightly. I enjoy cars and driving but that doesn't mean I should be able to drive what I want, where I want in any manner I want. There are rules and laws and restrictions and licenses for everyone who wants to drive a car, regardless of their intent. Does it stop people using cars as weapons against people and infrastructure? No, but it massively reduces the possibility. Perhaps you think that is unfair?

          Or do you perhaps think it's possible to unilaterally ban the manufacture, sale and use of drones completely, remove all the internet content on how to bypass drone restrictions, or modify a drone for longer endurance, and get everyone to forget completely how to build, modify or fly a drone?

          Congratulations, reductio ad absurdum.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Does it stop people using cars as weapons against people and infrastructure? No, but it massively reduces the possibility."

            How does requiring a drivers license, an MOT, paying road tax etc stop someone from using purposely run people down, transport guns, drugs, pack full of explosives?

            It doesn't, it ensures that people that do drive, have been educated on how to do it responsibly and it a known consistent manner so accidents are reduced.

            Rules are to ensure the general public who are law abiding know how to behave, it has no affect on people that are wanting to disrupt.

            1. Trixr Bronze badge

              It makes the barrier to entry that much harder. You need a driver's licence to hire a car. Sure, you can get a forgery, but it's hard to find driver's licence forgers. I wouldn't even know where to begin. So that immediately stops me from hiring a car to rob a bank or deliberately mow down pedestrians. (Not that I'm personally ordinarily tempted to, but for those who would opportunistically commit such crimes, it still applies.)

              It also helps to catch the morons who still commit crimes when using their actual IDs or bank cards. It may not prevent an actual crime being committed, but it makes it easier to track down the perps. It also gives you a mechanism to withhold the ability for someone to legally obtain the car, gun, whatever if they commit a crime and their licence is withdrawn.

              1. jake Silver badge

                @Trixr

                "but it's hard to find driver's licence forgers. I wouldn't even know where to begin. So that immediately stops me from hiring a car to rob a bank or deliberately mow down pedestrians."

                What makes you think a criminal would hire a car or other vehicle, when it's so easy to steal one? They are criminals, remember?

                1. ShadowDragon8685

                  Re: @Trixr

                  One tidbit I always like to bring up is that the mob - as in, the Italian Mafia - are some of the BIGGEST contributions to gun-control politician's campaigns. They WANT effective gun control.

                  Why?

                  "I'm a mobster. I'm a crook. I'm always gonna have a gun! A longer sentence for owning a gun doesn't scare me if I'm already gonna do something with that gun that's gonna get me put away for life or sent to the chair. I'm already taking my chances with the law. What scares me is if the ordinary guy I'm about to go do something to with that gun has a gun I don't know about."

                  1. rg287 Silver badge

                    Re: @Trixr

                    One tidbit I always like to bring up is that the mob - as in, the Italian Mafia - are some of the BIGGEST contributions to gun-control politician's campaigns. They WANT effective gun control.

                    The reason the Italians want strong gun control is simple local protectionism. Foreign firearms models must be added to a whitelist to be legal for import and sale. Getting new models added to that whitelist takes almost exactly as long as you would expect Italian bureaucracy (and usually a bit longer).

                    Beretta, Perazzi and Benelli pay handsomely for this service.

                    1. ShadowDragon8685

                      Re: @Trixr

                      I was referring to the mob in the United States, not the mob in Italy.

          2. Gordan

            "Does it stop people using cars as weapons against people and infrastructure? No, but it massively reduces the possibility."

            I don't see how licensing drivers in any way reduces the possibility of a driver deliberately using a vehicle as a weapon against people and infrastructure. At a push it might slightly reduce incidence of incompetence, but certainly not of a deliberate act.

            1. Tom Paine Silver badge

              OP obviously meant "probability".

              1. Gordan

                In this case it doesn't matter whether he meant possibility or probability, as it doesn't reduce either.

        2. mildy bemused

          So anything that's not 100% effective fails?

          Here are some other things that are not 100% effective, please mark the ones you would like to abandon:

          _ Gun control.

          _ Drink driving.

          _ Speeding on urban streets.

          _ Antivirus.

          _ Spam blockers.

          _Fences around school playgrounds.

          _APT protection.

          _Locking the front door on your home

          1. JWLong

            So anything that's not 100% effective fails?

            As the saying goes, "Locks only keep honest people out!"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So anything that's not 100% effective fails?

              As the saying goes, "Locks only keep honest people out!"

              Don't tell my insurance company but when I was comprehensively broken and entered, the rear garden door was unlocked. Fortunately the perps had the presence of mind and social responsibility to use a crowbar on a wooden window that was strangely and unusually locked.

              Remember joyriders and burnt out cars everywhere?

              Technology fixed that, not legislation.

              Legislation is one thing, enforcement is another.

              It is an interesting thought to consider that if instead of prosecuting people for speeding - a technical offence - every RTA was investigated and any guilt such as speeding was prosecuted as dangerous driving or without due care and attention, we might have a better standard of driving on the roads.

              At least it would focus people's minds less on watching the road furniture and their speedos and more on not hitting other people.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            all of them

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Drone varmints!!!

        Rubbish, this is exactly the same argument used in the USA about why tighter gun control wont stop people getting killed

        I suppose the difference would have to be the prevailing social attitude RE: UK drone use vs. Gun use in the USA.

        i.e. it's not currently (in the UK) at 'Yosemite Sam' levels, which US gun control often appears to be.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Drone varmints!!!

          To be fair.. The drone pilots could have been anywhere in the world - Its possible to modify drones to use LTE networks. Search Youtube, you'll find various examples of people modifying them to use 4G USB Dongles (Search Youtube and be prepared to say WTF!)

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: Drone varmints!!!

            Someone has to launch and recover them.

            1. Mr Benny

              Re: Drone varmints!!!

              And in this case recharge or replace batteries.

        2. adam 40 Bronze badge

          Guns vs Drones

          Have you thought about this: if thie drone attack had happened in USA everyone at the airport would have been armed to the teeth and they would have been shot down in a couple of minutes.

          1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

            Re: Guns vs Drones

            *snerk*

            Have an upvote for your silly comment.

            As a USian I'm allowed to think your implied depiction of our entire population as gun-toting maniacs is funny.

          2. itzman

            Re: Guns vs Drones

            If the drone attack had happened in USA everyone at the airport would have been armed to the teeth and they would have been shot down in a couple of minutes.

            And how many people 5 miles away would have been collateral damage?

        3. RancidRodent

          Re: Drone varmints!!!

          Gun crime in the UK has continued to increase year on year - despite taking handguns off the public back in the 90s.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Drone varmints!!!

            "Gun crime in the UK has continued to increase year on year - despite taking handguns off the public back in the 90s."

            I know this is old, but in case anyone reads this in future, the quoted statement is false.

            1. rg287 Silver badge

              Re: Drone varmints!!!

              I know this is old, but in case anyone reads this in future, the quoted statement is false.

              No it isn't. It's not entirely accurate, but you're blanket dismissal wrong too.

              Pistols were prohibited in 1997. Firearms crime rose through the mid-1990s and continued to rise unabated until 2004. The Acts of 1997 had zero effect - either way - on firearms crime.

              After Operation Trident arrested the rise in organised criminal activity, firearms crime dipped, and fell for a decade until ~2013/14 when we started to see the effects of austerity in Policing efficacy. Since 2014, non-airgun firearms crime has been rising as much as 30% year-on-year in some areas.

              The most popular firearms used in crime is a pistol (44%), proving that having a sesinsble regulatory and licensing regime makes a country safer (see: Europe vs. USA), but prohibiting actual firearm types achieves literally nothing (how can pistols be the most popular criminal firearm if there are none in circulation for theft or misuse?).

              A comparison of Britain vs. Europe demonstrates that despite having the most stringent firearms legislation on the continent, we are absolutely no safer for it, having a homicide rate twice that of the the Czech Republic and comparable rates to Germany or France - who permit (for instance) the private ownership of pistols and semi-auto rifles for Olympic target shooting in approved clubs.

      3. Richard Parkin

        Rise in handgun crime

        Experience in UK does not support you. There has been a huge rise in handgun crime since they were largely banned post-Dunblane, I rememember all the TV programs “exposing” how easy it was to get or convert handguns which in my view then amounted to encouragement to do it

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rise in handgun crime

          I believe that Afghans make rifles more or less by hand.

          It might take me a few months, but I reckon I could make a rifle from a car axle, and old pine table and some more scrap.

          Ammo? That's a different matter. Cartridge cases are reusable if you can re-detonater them. But of course there are many sources of blanks like Hilti guns. And shotguns are legal and contain a decent propellant And detonator

          I guess black powder from birdshit is a possible.

        2. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Rise in handgun crime

          "Experience in UK does not support you. There has been a huge rise in handgun crime since they were largely banned post-Dunblane,"

          Ditto with this guy. It's false. Gun crime is low and hasn't exploded. There was a change in statistic recording which made it appear as though crime has risen.

          1. rg287 Silver badge

            Re: Rise in handgun crime

            Ditto with this guy. It's false. Gun crime is low and hasn't exploded. There was a change in statistic recording which made it appear as though crime has risen.

            That was circa 2004. Gun Crime rose in real terms from the mid-90s through to 2003/4. The handgun prohibition had literally zero impact (handguns still the most popular criminal firearm - 44% of all firearm crime according to ONS figures in March 2018).

            Gun crime dropped post 2004 when Operation Trident started getting results. It kept falling for a decade, then has picked up in the last couple of years as Policing efficacy has dropped due to austerity.

            The change in reporting actually just made Trident look less effective than it was because the fall in gang-on-gang activity was made up for by the stupid practice of classing incidents as "firearm" if a firearm was thought to be involved, regardless of whether there any firearm was recovered or confirmed to be involved or not!

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Rise in handgun crime

              "REPORTED Gun Crime rose in real terms from the mid-90s through to 2003/4."

              There. FTFY.

              Kids are _statistically_ safer than they've ever been.

              Domestic violence levels are _statistically_(*) lower than they've ever been.

              Yet reporting levels are higher than ever. This is down to both awareness and increased unwillingness to simply write things off.

              (*) That's based on assessed injuries at A&E departments.

      4. tfb Silver badge

        I was going to make the gun-control argument as well but I think it's not the same. The difference is that there's really one use for guns (especially in the UK which is really too densely populated for hunting with guns, except shotguns, to be a thing), which is killing people. Really bad people will still have guns of course, but you can vastly reduce the prevalence of the killing-people problem by just heavily restricting gun ownership.

        But drones aren't like that at all: they're not single-purpose devices at all. So I don't think the argument is straightforward. Drones are more like cars than guns, I think.

        1. jake Silver badge

          "there's really one use for guns"

          I can think of at least five: Food harvesting; putting down diseased/infirm critters; varmint control; meditation[0]; collecting. I've used guns for all of the above in the last week.

          [0] I find gunsmithing, handloading and long-distance target shooting to be quite meditative.

          1. tfb Silver badge

            Re: "there's really one use for guns"

            Perhaps I wasn't clear enough about the 'in the UK' bit. There are some places in the UK where you could safely use a rifle to hunt. But not many.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: "there's really one use for guns"

              "But not many."

              OTOH they're pretty big.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "There are some places in the UK where you could safely use a rifle to hunt"

              I am sitting in one.

              2 meters above ground, nothing in line of sight to the horizon and plenty of wildlife

              Rural areas are COVERED in private agricultural land infested with rabbits and pigeons both of which do crop damage and a lot of feral or wild deer which also are a pest in large numbers.

              Rifle is not appropriate for pigeons, but it is for deer and rabbits, and in fact street legal air rifles with IR sights are an excellent way to control farmyard rats.

              Foxes? well that's an emotive subject. Dogs are safer and more reliable for sure.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: "There are some places in the UK where you could safely use a rifle to hunt"

                "Foxes? well that's an emotive subject. Dogs are safer and more reliable for sure."

                That's debateable. I can think of a half dozen ways to deal with foxes which don't involve firearms or dogs and don't alert the fox's friends&family that there's trouble in the area, so they need to lay low or scarper.

                Similar problems apply to rats. You can't just kill one or two because as soon their friends realise there's a problem, you won't catch/kill any more.

            3. rg287 Silver badge

              Re: "there's really one use for guns"

              Perhaps I wasn't clear enough about the 'in the UK' bit. There are some places in the UK where you could safely use a rifle to hunt. But not many.

              No really, the entire UK, including every golf course in London.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "The difference is that there's really one use for guns (especially in the UK which is really too densely populated for hunting with guns, except shotguns*, to be a thing), which is killing people."

          There's competition shooting for a start. Post-Dunblane the ban lead to the shooting contingent of the UK Olympic team having to train abroad. And yet smarmer-in-chief Blair had his photo-opportunity with the team. I was surprised that those affected didn't boycott him.

          The trouble with urgent legislation in response to something like this is that it's not well thought out and liable to err on the side of being too all-embracing or nigh on impossible to enforce. The pit-bull legislation is an example of the latter.

          *I believe deer stalking uses rifles. There are large portions of the UK less densely populated than those you're familiar with.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Drones are more like cars than guns? Seriously? Why do most people fly drones? It’s fun. It challenges your skills to get better. That’s exactly why people often buy guns. Target practice or hunting is enjoyable to a great many people, and a challenge to your skill level. Cars are basically utilitarian. Guns and drones are basically for enthusiasts.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Your assertion that Britain is too small for hunting with guns is entirely incorrect. The BASC (The national association for those who use firearms for hunting) has more than 148,000 members. You may verify this figure in the "Shooting - The Facts for Journalists" section on their website. I live in the county of Hampshire and our county police force alone has more than 97,000 registered Firearms Certificate (FAC) holders. These are all people who own rifles or the classes of pistol which are still permitted. The ownership of a shotgun requires a different piece of paper, a Shotgun Certificate (SGC). I hold both.

          Your further assertion that the only reasons to own a gun are to hunt or kill people are also incorrect. Firstly, it is illegal to use a legally held gun in self defense. Secondly, you omit the sport of target shooting. The NRA (The British one which exists to promote the safe sport of target shooting, not the American one which is a gun rights organisation) almost certainly has more members than the BASC. I can't surface a number quickly but I'm sure if you contact the membership department they could provide one. The NRA deals with rifle shooring of "fullbore" (basically anything that's not .22 rimfire). There is also the NSRA (National Smallbore Rifle Association) which is the parent body of .22 rimfire target shooting.

          Part of the perception that hardly anyone owns guns is down to owners and potential owners are educated that an important part of gun security, preventing theft of legally held weapons, is it not being widely known that you have them in your home to steal. In fact, if it is widely known in your neighbourhood that you have guns, your application to get or keep your certificates may be denied. None of my neighbours know I have guns and ammunition.

          The British firearms licensing regime is highly restrictive and, by and large IMHO, works very well. It seeks to make sure that ownership is limited to those who are mentally suitable and that certificate holders only own weapons and quantities of ammunition that are appropriate for the shooting they actually do. I required a criminal record check and references from two persons of good standing and my GP was contacted to make sure he had no concerns about my mental suitability to be a responsible owner. Should I ever commit any offence that casts doubt on my responsibility then my certificates would be revoked. For example, a drink driving conviction or two speeding tickets is enough to throw into question my regard for the well being of those my actions might affect and would make me unsuitable to own a gun.

          Criminals tend to favour handguns, which are easy to transport and conceal and the vast majority of gun crime in the UK is committed with such weapons. These weapons are almost entirely illegally imported/held as they can't be possessed by a member of the general public on a certificate without special authority from the Home Secretary. This makes the theft of legally held rifles generally unattractive as they aren't what criminals want.

          Posted AC as I don't wish to reveal to anyone who might know my name that I am a firearm owner.

        5. rg287 Silver badge

          (especially in the UK which is really too densely populated for hunting with guns, except shotguns, to be a thing),

          You've never been outside the M25 have you?

          Hundreds of thousands of people use rifles for hunting deer, foxes and small mammals (rabbits, etc), across the nation. Including London actually - go and look at one of the dozens of golf courses inside the M25. They'll have someone with a rifle come and shoot rabbits once a week to keep the fairways from being dug up.

      5. Ghostman
        Holmes

        @Ramses Niblick the Third

        So you actually believe that criminals doing this are going to obey the new regulations?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Regulations

          "So you actually believe that criminals doing this are going to obey the new regulations?"

          Politicians pass (often poor) regulations to soothe the masses - the enforcement is then left to other bodies who often lack the common sense necessary to implement them. If you happen to be in a minority that has legitimate requirements affected by one of these regulations, appealing/fighting it is time consuming and costly and most of the general public will just give in and accept it as the new norm.

          The idealist would say that the politicians should do better and be more careful, the optimist would say all parties involved (including the public) should strive to improve while the cynic acknowledges just how far we are up the creek and that the stock of paddles is awfully low.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Never do this

      Not quite the same. Having some rules in place also gives to the enforcement agencies the rationale and justification to develop the capabilities necessary for enforcing the regulations.

    4. FlamingDeath Bronze badge

      "You cannot ban drones"

      Yes but 'they' can act out scenarios such as this to give a pretext to ban drones

      This Machiavellianism is as old as the hills

      1. Create problem

      2. Offer Solution

      3. Win

      Most people will read this comment and say to themselves "that's absurd", and that is correct it is absurd. Doesnt make it untrue though. I think most people rationalise that because its not something they would do, that someone else wouldnt either, and that there is the problem.

      Hearts & Minds is not what you think it means, think 1984 doublespeak, and you're halfway there

    5. itzman

      Indeed. A skilled drone pilot could probably have brought down the rogues more cheaply than an Israeli system costing millions

      Drone wars. That's what we want. And film it all for you tube

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        A google for "drone wars" is enlightening. And depressing.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am struck that the reasoning that is in a lot of these notes: "Criminals and terrorists will just ignore any restrictions, so the only impact will be on law-abiding citizens who already follow the existing rules." is the EXACT same reasoning that gun control proponents use in the U.S. THE EXACT WORDING. And they are right for the same reason. But that won't matter to anyone , eventually, because enough bad guys WILL cause problems that they are willing to screw the good guys as well. "The technology is already out there" is the same argument as "they guns are already out there". Listen to the lot of you, and I can literally take "drone" and substitute "gun" and find a thousand quotes that are exactly the same. I am not going to make a judgement... just an obvious observation. I leave it to the reader to see that to a huge and growing number of people, guns and drones are essentially "arms", and no one should have them for all of the same reasons. And you all have brought that point home by reading these comments.

    7. Randy Hudson

      By that argument, there shouldn’t be any law against murdering someone.

    8. JDX Gold badge

      This is the same argument pro-gun folk use in the USA to explain that the apparent correlation between their massive number of gun-related crimes/deaths and the lax restriction laws is actually just a coincidence... the Bad Guys would get guns either way after all.

      If you can only get a drone with difficulty, then of course they'll still be used by criminals but only by more organised, serious criminals. Like guns in the UK... of course you can get one if you know where to look but most burglars do NOT have guns. Casual criminals... some chav flying a drone for a lark... will not make the effort.

      If you REALLY clamp down on things, then you have to find a smuggling ring just to get the things into the country. They get much more expensive and you have to associate with really murky types. Genuine terrorists are really quite rare compared to idiots or those who seize the opportunity because it's easy to do so.

    9. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > Why is it that politicians (and pilots on PPrune) don't seem to understand that regulation only stops people who are prepared to abide by the rules?

      Regulations don't stop birds either (or plastic bags)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anti-Bird Strike Radar?

    While reading the professionals over on pprune what struck me is that even though the high res airport active radar may no longer be used I though the bigger airports were supposes to be getting runway local anti bird strike radar. Which should show up drones quite nicely.

    Is Gatwick supposed to have active anti-bird strike measures in place? Is it a legal requirement for operation? If not why not.

    It seems that a few of the anti-bird strike radar units placed around the runway perimeters would kill two birds with one stone. So to speak. And a guy with a shotgun could deal with both kinds of flying pests.

    1. Tony Jarvie

      Re: Anti-Bird Strike Radar?

      A good idea, but two potential problems; 1. You're assuming that the birds aren't actively trying to fly into the flight paths of the aircraft unlike the operators of the drones. (Although they probably don't want to ACTUALLY hit a plane, they probably want to make it look as if they do, to cause the disruption). 2. Presumably even with birds, you wouldn't get much of a warning if they suddenly rise up into the flight paths from the ground.

  3. Gavin Chester

    I fly a drone for fun (a DJI Spark) and I really hope they do find the people who did it, and give them a long sentence for the problems they caused, but now the pilots seemed to have left the area I'm unsure how the police have any chance of doing so.

    Unfortunately as Alister points out, the only people this will affect are people like me who fly for fun, and do stay within the laws. I have no doubt there will be calls for bans and restrictions, but as you can build a drone with a PiZero as its brains, I can't see how a determined adversary would be put off by such a ban on off the shelf products, like DJI kit, that already have GPS Geofencing built in to prevent this sort of thing happening. Another option is the bad guys buy the parts in France and come back through the tunnel, or ferry so evading any UK requirements.

    BALPA are calling for the exclusion zone to be increased from 1KM to 5KM, licences for pilots and to fit something that transmits a signal to ATC, but as the bad guys here are already ignoring the 1KM zone, and ignoring Air Navigation Orders then why does anyone expect they will suddenly respect the 5KM zone, get a traceable license or bother fitting and registering a transponder.

    There should be something done to try and prevent this in the future, but a knee jerk reaction probably only serve to restrict the already law abiding hobby fliers while the criminal element just wont care.

    1. DailyLlama

      We all know that governments love a good knee-jerk response though, so that they're seen to be doing something "now", rather than waiting 6 months and having a measured, well thought out response that takes legal hobbyists into consideration...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We all know that governments love a good knee-jerk response though, so that they're seen to be doing something "now", rather than waiting 6 months and having a measured, well thought out response that takes legal hobbyists into consideration...

        If the record of this Government is anything to go by, they'll announce something on Monday and then spend the next two years trying (and failing) to work out how the hell they're actually going to be able to put it into action.

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Have you ever actually listened to Today In Parliament?

        Have you ever watched a Select Committee session, and then followed the enquiry, and then read the report they issue?

        Do you, in fact, know anything about how the UK parliament functions?

    2. EricM

      How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

      Assuming these things are not flying autonomous, the sender should be detectable - or at least give the police a good hint about its direction.

      As it is probably flown out of line of sight, the video stream to the operator should be traceable as well...

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

        You would think that anybody shouting well above the maximum transmit power at 2.4GHz would stand out like a sore thumb.

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

          I think you'll find received power decreases as the square of the distance, so if you don't know the distance, how do you know whether it's "small... nearby. Big... FAR AWAY", etc.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

        Everyone with their phones and didn't bother to turn off WiFi?

      3. Michael Kean

        Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

        If they're being miscreants, I'd say there's a strong chance they're using LTE (4G) instead of 2.4GHz.

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

          They could be using any damn bandwidth they want that's functional with the size and distance requirements. There are a lot of assumptions being made about the type of equipment being used by the attackers. Let's see what public info emerges about the crashed vehicle they've reportedly recovered -- if any.

      4. CheesyTheClown

        Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

        Let’s assume for the moment that we were to plan the perfect crime here. This is a fun game.

        1) Communications

        Don’t use ISM, instead use LTE and VPNs. It’s pretty cheap and easy to buy SIM cards and activate them in places like Romania without a postal address or even ID. Buy cards that works throughout Europe. They’re cheap enough and far more effective for ranged communication than 2.4. Additionally, jamming is a bigger problem as you can’t jam telephone signals at an airport during a crisis. In a place like England where people are dumb enough to vote Brexit and have fights in bars over children kicking balls around, it would cause riots.

        2) Use 3D printed drones. Don’t buy commercial, they’re too expensive and too easy to track. Just download any of a hundred tested designs and order the parts from a hundred different Chinese shops.

        3) Don’t design for automatic landing.

        4) Add solar cells and plan ahead. Don’t try planting them yourself, instead, launch them 20 miles away from different sites and have them fly closer each day at low altitude until they are close.

        5) Don’t depend on remote control. Write a program which uses GPS and AGPS to put on an “Animitronic Performance”. Then they can run for hours without fear of interference.

        6) Stream everything to Twitch or something else anonymously. Send streams to Indonesian web sites or something like that instead.

        I have to go shopping... but it would be fun to continue ... share your thoughts.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

          LTE SIMs, while usable and easy to source in an untraceable way, would be geolocateable. Wouldn't be hard to use that to find where the miscreants are by first detecting a SIM in an odd area of the airport and then backtracking to the controlling mobile. Dispatch black van with heavily armed officials to have a chat....

          1. paulll Bronze badge

            Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

            The SIM, in this instance, goes into a cellular data module on the drone, and is only extremely coarsely geolocatable by tower triangulation; it's not in a phone, it has no connection to a gps unit that it knows of, no back-channels, it's just a number on the network.

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge

              Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

              It's actually quite easy to do good geolocation based only on the SIM, a variety of companies sell such software to the networks.

              1. paulll Bronze badge

                Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

                It's actually quite easy to do good geolocation based only on the SIM, a variety of companies sell such software to the networks."

                Yeah it's actually not. As an emt I've had to use such information as part of my job on the regular(comes over mapped on an MDT), and I've seen the magic software at work in dispatch centres. Even using e911, where the subscriber implicitly wants to be found, the info's not great, I can't recall a single instance where it alone would have sufficed to locate a caller/patient.

                And near a major airport the info is going to amount to,"if the airport drone is, in fact, using SIM #n, we can confirm that airport drone is at or near the airport."

                1. JetSetJim Silver badge

                  Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

                  > Yeah it's actually not. As an emt I've had to use such information as part of my job on the regular(comes over mapped on an MDT), and I've seen the magic software at work in dispatch centres.

                  Sorry, but that's not the software I'm talking about (that the company I work for sells). Real time geolocation is harder, but getting better, and can still be better than "it's somewhere in this cell". Near real time (15-20 mins) can be scarily accurate. EMT stuff will be behind the times, no doubt, and is limited by the interface back to the network operator.

      5. Paul Stimpson

        Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

        The autonomous flying of any model aircraft is already banned in the UK. All operations must be below 400ft (125m) and within visual line of slight (VLOS.) The operator must be in full control of the vehicle at all times.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      as someone who shoots, welcome to my World

    4. Kreton

      Gavin

      Would it not be easy to send up a police/military drone to follow the errant drone so that when it runs out of power or is landed the location of the culprits could be noted?

      I'm asking you as I have no knowledge of drones.

      Thanks

      Kreton

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        The internet would be so much quieter if people who didn't know anything just asked questions, rather than offering silly theories or comment starting "Why don't they just..."!

      2. Gavin Chester

        Hmmm

        Potentially yes, but practically probably not as most drones are small and the onboard camera would have a limited field of view to actually be useful. DJI stuff will not fly close to airports by default, and an override is possible but would probably take a while as you have to request if from DJI (I know how to do it by reading the instructions but I've never had any reason to actually requested an override to know how long it takes)

        However they have these helicopter things that can stay up far longer, have multiple people in them, plus FLIR and stuff that may help tracking. Normally a Helicopter at an airport would have defined flight path, but as the airspace was closed there could have been more leeway where a copter could go, but I'm no expert on air traffic control..

        You are also assuming the miscreants want the drone back, if they really were intent on creating chaos, they may consider them one shot devices and fly them to a random location and dump it there to prevent the authorities tracking them back.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Would it not be easy to send up a police/military drone to follow the errant drone "

        First, find your drone - If there _IS_ a drone.

        The only "drone strike" in London airspace turned out to be a plastic bag.

        It's rather telling that these "drones" only came out at twilight/after dark.

        https://hackaday.com/2018/12/26/ooops-did-we-just-close-an-airport-over-a-ufo-sighting/

        "Picture this: it’s late in the evening on a freezing cold, dark, and windy December night in southern England, and an airport worker at Gatwick — London’s second international airport — sees something fly past in the gloom above the floodlights. The weather and darkness makes it difficult to see what the object was, but the report is phoned in to security. What was it? A flock of birds? A piece of plastic litter caught by the wind and blown through the night? In this case, the call is recorded as a drone. Because the magic D-word has been uttered, a security plan swings into action, the airport is put on a high state of readiness, and flights are suspended.

        Thousands of people across the site are put on alert, watching for the drone. And of course, the drone reports roll in, and the story takes on a life of its own. People who have no idea what a drone looks like in the air are now expecting to see one, so of course when a flock of birds or a plastic bag caught by the wind crosses their peripheral vision they too are convinced that it is the drone. Night turns into day, there is a lull in the reports so the airport re-opens, only to be closed again following a fresh spate of sightings. Flights are diverted all across the country, and tens of thousands of passengers are stranded in the terminals."

        - A drone large enough to actually _cause_ a problem would show up on radar.

        - A drone large enough to not be knocked out of the air by wake turbulence from the _previous_ aircraft would show up on radar

        - The increase in the number of drone sightings reported by airline pilots is almost exactly matched by the DECREASE in the number of bird sightings reported by airline pilots.

        If you whiz past something the size of a DJI Phantom(*) at 180-200mph(**), are you going to be able to give a detailed description of it? I hit a duck flying out of an airstrip at 70mph and the only inkling I had was a flash of one of its flockmates dodging my propellor as I heard the thump of it hitting my wing (The only reason I knew it was a duck was the 1/20 second sillouette and the only reason we know it was a mallard was the green feathers left behind in the rivets)

        (*) Which is a HELL of a lot smaller than a flying mallard duck!

        (**) normal approach speeds. Watch some landing videos. There are a few with birdstrikes in them. The pilots _never_ see the birds and you can barely see them in frame-by-frame replays.

    5. Paul Stimpson

      Such ID transmitting devices already exist. They are, however, obscenely expensive (at least 2-3 times the cost of most craft) and fairly battery hungry. They also require an ID number which would mean having to go through the costly process of getting formal aircraft registration. Their weight and power draw would also affect the performance and flying time of, particularly lighter, craft.

      Part of the problem faced by drone owners is the success of DJI. They have become such a market leader that their products, particularly the Phantom, are what the public thinks of when drones come to mind and their capabilities are assumed by the public to apply to all UAVs.

      The heart of any drone is the Flight Controller (FC.) It manages the craft and converts the control inputs from the sticks into control signals that direct the motors. Unlike a model plane, where the stick movements can be directly translated into movements of the control surfaces, a drone can't fly without an FC.

      Not all FCs support geofencing around airports. In fact, most non-DJI units don't. Not all FCs have GPS as standard or at all. It's not desirable on grounds of weight or battery life in some applications such as drone racing which is performed with small, very fast craft where agility is much more important than stability. Not to mention a lot of drone racing being done indoors.

      Would any legal restrictions require onerous technical inspections to check the capabilities of craft? How do they know that my GPS-equipped FC isn't running old firmware from the pre-restricted days or I haven't unplugged the GPS cable? Would I need to have it re-inspected every time I did significant work on it?

      As a user and author of open source software, I have concerns about where this might lead. If GPS and geofencing that couldn't be defeated were to be made legal requirements, that would effectively constitute a ban on all of the open source FCs as they either wouldn't have geofencing or any miscreant could edit the code or the no-fly-zone list to remove the restrictions. I'd hate to see a precedent set and it become normal for open source to be banned from whole classes of products because of what someone might modify them to do.

  4. Ye Gads
    Coat

    Environmental Protestors?

    Sorry, not buying that one.

    That's not how these guys protest. They tend to put themselves on/in the site they're protesting in. Typical of their tactics are things like the Newbury bypass protests, where they esconced themselves in the trees that were to be chopped down and forced the contractors to have them removed. The Anti-Fracking protests are another case in point. They storm the site, sometimes break stuff, but mostly put themselves in the way of what people want to do.

    This doesn't fit the MO that they've built up over the decades.

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: Environmental Protestors?

      Totally agree. For me, this was a proof of concept....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Proof of concept

        Agreed.

        The next time it will be 50+ drones all carrying a bit of H.E. Explode even one over an aircraft and the airport will be closed for a week.

        Then there are all those SAM-6's that suppsoedly disappeared in Syria.... All it takes is one in the wrong hands.

        1. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

          Re: Proof of concept

          "SAM-6's" are 6 metres long, weigh 600kg and require a heavy launcher vehicle. I think you mean SA7, SA14, or SA16 :-)

          1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Proof of concept

            "SAM-6's" are 6 metres long, weigh 600kg and require a heavy launcher vehicle. I think you mean SA7, SA14, or SA16

            I think he meant THIS (VIDEO).

            I get me coat, thanks.

    2. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

      Re: Environmental Protestors?

      Well, not entirely. Frivolous lawsuits are also are a specialty, as is mechanical sabotage.

      That being said, this lot appear to be very much avoiding publicity, which is not their MO at all. Whether this is a terrorist or environmental issue, whoever is responsible is of the "lone wolf" type. That is, someone sitting in their parents basement deciding on all this themselves. The way to catch this person or persons will be when they feel the need to boast.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Environmental Protestors?

        Your parents' basement types would have been boasting well before now - in fact they'd probably have been live-streaming the whole event on a link from 4chan or reddit.

      2. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Environmental Protestors?

        Can you imagine what most people will do if they/we get our hands on the person or persons behind this?

        I haven't personally been directly affected by this but if it was my holiday being ruined by some [expletive deleted] then I wouldn't be adverse to showing my unhappiness through physical means. And with the number of people who have been affected being enough to fill over 800 aircraft, that's an awful lot of unhappiness.

        And you wonder why they want to stay anonymous?

        1. Mr Benny

          Re: Environmental Protestors?

          That being said, the people flying off dont give a rats arse about the effect all the extra noise and pollution from the extra air and ground traffic entirely down to them has on local residents up to several miles from the airport. We're all selfish in our own way.

          1. Goldmember

            Re: Environmental Protestors?

            "That being said, the people flying off dont give a rats arse about the effect all the extra noise and pollution from the extra air and ground traffic entirely down to them has on local residents up to several miles from the airport. We're all selfish in our own way."

            Gatwick opened in 1958. It didn't recently spring up out of nowhere. Virtually (maybe literally) all of the local residents were aware of its presence - and the associated noise etc. - before moving to their current homes.

      3. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Environmental Protestors?

        As I understand it, drones were reported or detected every few hours for, what, 40 hours or so? That's a very, very dedicated lone nutter in a shed with a really powerful alarm clock, who can operate on 40 mins of sleep (allowing time to drive to a mobile launch site, launch, drive to recovery site, return home - to say nothing of interactive flight control, if they're not pre-programmed flightpaths.) And assumes the pilot's doing the launch and recovery themselves.

        My bet is a minimum of two, probably three or four people.

        Lulzsec kept their mouths shut and stayed lucky for, what, three months or so? Six? But the more people, the bigger the chance someone says something silly, snitches or flips.

        Unless they're professionals, of course.

        *shrug*

    3. myhandler

      Re: Environmental Protestors?

      Could just be another personality profile - not everyone wants to join a gang.

      If you do this as "proof of concept" you've immediately given away your method - you can be sure something will be brought in to counter it.

      There must be sightings by locals outside the perimeter by now - but maybe they hate the airport.

    4. Herring`

      Re: Environmental Protestors?

      Could be locals opposed to airport expansion.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Environmental Protestors?

        surely environmental protestors would have launched coordinated drones at all the local airports. That would cause more chaos than juat gatwick.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Environmental Protestors?

        Could just be ducks.

    5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Environmental Protestors?

      I'm sure we shall find out in time.

      Not too sure about referring to them as "one theory is that they may be environmental rights terrorists" - as far as I'm aware there was no physical injury to anyone, actual or intended. One of the key points about the all-embracing 'terrorism' is that it involves using violence for political ends. If violence wasn't deemed to be necessary, and simply causing terror for political ends = terrorism, then I'm afraid the entire Parliamentary Tory party would be going down for a very long stretch.

      Let's stick to 'activists' ?

    6. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Environmental Protestors?

      They tend to...

      That's a reasonable case for it not being people motivated by "eco" who've done direct actions before. There's other supporting evidence: the apparent professionalism, the lack of any PR (no point pulling apublicity stunt if you don;'t get publicity for your cause), and so on and so forth.

      Terrorists "tended to" hijack planes, until they didn't.

      Suicide bombing is (in the developed world. for practical purposes) a novel attack from the last 20 years.

      The consensus about global warming has become much clearer and the consequences much better understood in the last 20 years, it's had far more publicity than it had in the last century, and the "Extinction Rebellion" lot are a new thing.

      Digital communication and information technologies have radically changes the tools that lone nutters or small tight groups without big resources have to call on.

      And so on and so forth.

      However neither of the above mean the attackers /can't/ be motivated by The Ecos. I agree it looks unlikely.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    There have been no reports of anyone seeing drones taking off or landing, or at least none have been made public. This restricts the locations to isolated buildings or open locations well away from visibility of roads and groups of houses whilst still near enough to Gatwick. I'd expect that right now there are searches through mobile tower records looking for mobiles that can be triangulated to those areas at those times. I wouldn't rule out someone getting a knock on the door from the plod between now and the New Year.

    1. Kreton

      War time innovation

      In the last war solutions were jury rigged overnight to counter problems. Now I may be talking out of one of my orifices not known for speech but surely someone in their shed could attach a catch net to a drone and just fly up to the nasty one and take it down, or perhaps the scientists at the various agencies are fantastic scientists but have never used hand tools?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: War time innovation

        Sure they could. But that would just be two drones disrupting traffic over Gatwick, unless the guy in the shed first got the permission of the police, army and/or government to do so, which would not be quick or easy, unless he had some serious credentials. (We don't even know how good his shed is.)

        1. Kreton

          Re: War time innovation

          That was supposed to be a dig at the lack of the authorities cobbling together a big drone with a catch net to go and catch the disruptive device. I'm sure there is a hobbyist out there who could put it together in his/her shed and fly it under police supervision.

          ". But that would just be two drones disrupting traffic over Gatwick"!

          Not once the the quarry is caught.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: War time innovation

          You could train swallows to drop coconuts on the drones. Two swallows... bit of string between them...

          1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

            Re: War time innovation

            It could grip it by the husk!

          2. Dog11

            Re: War time innovation

            African or European swallow?

          3. KSM-AZ
            Happy

            Re: War time innovation

            -Deleted-

          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: War time innovation

            "You could train swallows to drop coconuts on the drones."

            Or you could train sea eagles to being them down.

            Oh yes, the Dutch police already did that - and found it wasn't very effective so they disbanded the unit.

      2. WallMeerkat

        Re: War time innovation

        According to the pictures on sky news they made some sort of drone radar from a Thule roofbox they presumably picked up from Halfords.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: War time innovation

          @WallMeerkat

          According to the pictures on sky news they made some sort of drone radar from a Thule roofbox they presumably picked up from Halfords.

          Thule???

          Thule Radar

          Thule Tracking Station

      3. Tony Jarvie

        Re: War time innovation

        Maybe that's what happened? There was only ever one "disruption" drone in the beginning, and every other sighting since has been people trying to be smart going "I'll send my drone over there and I'll be able to knock it out the sky".... (Just think along the lines of those people who reply to "All contacts" emails with things like "why did you send this to me, please take me off this list"..."please stop replying to all"... It's that mentality I'm thinking of here!)

      4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: War time innovation

        FWIW - we've added a link to a Daily Mail article claiming the cops used an Israeli ground-based drone-finder to knock it out of the skies: a laser was used to find the thing, and then its signals were jammed, by the multimillion-pound equipment. Alleged, of course, because nothing's been confirmed yet.

        C.

      5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: War time innovation

        surely someone in their shed could attach a catch net to a drone and just fly up to the nasty one and take it down

        Now if Ken Wallis were alive today, he'd have rigged a suitable net to one of his Autogyros and gone up and snatched the miscreant drone, or even given both barrels with a shotgun at close range

    2. BazNav

      A few years ago I saw a demo of a counter drone version or RAM-PRAS (made by Cunning Running software) that is designed to show you all of the places that meet those criteria. I wonder if someone is rushing through a purchase order right now?

    3. Mr Benny

      Unlikely

      If youre tech savvy enough to rig up something like this youre smart enough to know to switch off all mobile devices before you get anywhere near your destination. Or better yet leave them switched on at home.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Unlikely

        "If youre tech savvy enough to rig up something like this youre smart enough to know to switch off all mobile devices before you get anywhere near your destination."

        You'd be surprised at what mistakes people make when committing offences, particularly if they panic.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Unlikely

          Surely if there was more than one of them, they would need to coordinate their efforts somehow. I mean, they could use e.g. site radios, but would they think of that?

  6. Mike Brown

    Shoot it down?

    This debacle seems to highlight something. The fact they couldn't shoot it down. Or get it down any other way.

    To me, that's a rather large hole in this lands defensive abilities....

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Shoot it down?

      This debacle seems to highlight something. The fact they couldn't shoot it down.

      They could, but the risk of collateral damage is way too great. For range, a shotgun style weapon wouldn't be effective - you would need to use some sort of rifled firearm. Now, if you could guarantee that you'd get a completely clean shot at it and down it first time then that'd be OK. However that's very unlikely given size and speed of the target. Those bullets which miss the target need to go somewhere...and the range of a rifle means that there's a lot of potential for hitting something valuable and/or killing someone

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Shoot it down?

        Sharks with lasers. Misses would go harmlessly into space.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shoot it down?

        The best vehicle to shoot it down would be another drone equipped with something like a shotgun

        But of course once spotted its down on the deck and run for populated areas where a downward shotgun blast will not be a trouble free response

        Ground based EMP blast also fun.

    2. WallMeerkat

      Re: Shoot it down?

      Surely there are enough landed gentry in the South of England with clay pigeon / pheasant shooting skills to be able to take down a hovering plastic toy helicopter?

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Shoot it down?

        My thoughts exactly... Ring the local clay pigeon shoot.

        Sure, it might be too high, but it might also come down lower, it gotta be worth a try.

        For all we know, the police helicopter blew it out of the sky with it's down wash and the plod didn't even realise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shoot it down?

          I shoot and its the height that will be the issue. a fully choked 12g has a range of maybe 80yds top whack, but when shooting you don't really go for anything past 50yds out

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shoot it down?

        plenty of normal working class people shoot!

      3. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Shoot it down?

        Yes but gatwick... well, yknow, it's even north of basingstoke. So hardly the south old chap

      4. itzman

        Re: Shoot it down?

        at 5 meters altitude and 25m range, yes.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Shoot it down?

      "To me, that's a rather large hole in this lands defensive abilities...."

      There's been lots of talk of possible defence methods, lot's of talk about other places where defence methods have been put in place, bit no mention anywhere of any of these defences actually being successfully used in a live situation (other than in a warzone where there's less worry about "collateral damage")

    4. SVV Silver badge

      Re: Shoot it down?

      The solution is obviously to develop a drone destroying drone. Add a rotating diamond tipped saw to one and equip the police with it. Robot Wars in the sky.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Shoot it down?

        Buzz'droids.

    5. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Shoot it down?

      <blockquotes>

      To me, that's a rather large hole in this lands defensive abilities....

      </blockquotes>

      Consider that there are other "lands" in the world. (Did you mean 'länder' perhaps?)

    6. UnstableBoy

      Re: Shoot it down?

      fast drone with a skilled operator and long strings\ribbon\whatever attached underneath. overfly the offending drone and the strings tangle the props. have the strings on a velcro or something so they don't pull down the attacking drone. hell, I would love my job to be to sit at an airport all day waiting for a alarm to go off so I can fly an "attack" drone

  7. TRT Silver badge

    Are they actually certain that these are drones?

    And not simply regular flights between the UK and the North Pole by Santa's elves? I mean, then might have just had a hiccup in the supply chain for that phase shifting pixie invisibility dust.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they actually certain that these are drones?

      "And not simply regular flights between the UK and the North Pole by Santa's elves?"

      You could ask NORAD.

      Actually, that might be a good idea, their surveillance is good enough to track individual present deliveries, they should have no problem tracking a drone....

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Are they actually certain that these are drones?

      Maybe it's just a few Amazon deliveries and the person ordering used the work address as the destination? Or the Amazon AI tracked the order direct to the person by snooping their phone data?

      "Amazon. We don't just know where you live, we know where you are right now!"

  8. thondwe

    Alledged Photo of drone

    Apparently a photo on the daily maily front page?

    https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/152C/production/_104902450_mail.jpg

    1. WallMeerkat

      Re: Alledged Photo of drone

      That spec in the sky can suddenly become a large problem if it is in the flightpath of your jet engine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alledged Photo of drone

        This drone is small, and that aeroplane is far away. Or is it the other way round?

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Alledged Photo of drone

      Apparently a photo on the daily maily front page?

      Is that the only picture, or the only one to be published?

      Could be an alien spacecraft or a weather balloon.

      At least we now know it's not something in the water, or at least we will as long as someone checks the picture for photoshopping (only a couple of shopping days left)

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Alledged Photo of drone

      Difficult to judge size from this as it is unclear how far it is from the terminal. Can be quite big actually...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alledged Photo of drone

      "Alleged". I'd put money on the Mail "faking" the image. Probably an asterix somewhere in the paper saying "artistic interpretation" to avoid being sued.

    5. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Alledged Photo of drone

      It is strange there are no decent pictures of it. Last time I was on the viewing gallery on an airport roof there were camera lenses bigger than my massive telescope. And most of the press photographers at sports events could upskirt a Martian.

    6. 6491wm

      Re: Alledged Photo of drone

      I've seen more convincing pictures of Nessie & BigFoot

  9. Threlkeld

    Fire and forget ...?

    It would seem to be possible to program a drone to fly for a short interval and then land in an obscure resting place and wait for a quasi-random interval on the order of hours before repeating the foray. How long would the battery last for 5 minute flights every four hours, I wonder?

    It would also seem to be possible that an individual infuriated by the idea of folk flying half way round the world for a holiday might decide to discourage said folk for the future. He might even be smart enough to see that not getting caught would achieve his aim best, and also allow him to do it again some time.

    He would not need to retrieve his drone from the hornets' nest of activity he has caused, as long as he had been careful not to let it be traceable back to him or his organisation. It could be left on a flat roof, or in an abandoned pigsty, or wherever else he had chosen for its resting-place. It could be a 'fire and forget' operation. Makes it a lot easier to establish a good alibi.

    I'm sure that there must be a flaw in this argument, but I can't just now see it. Nor can I see any very convincing counter-measure, short of jamming GPS locally whenever a drone is detected. Which might be possible, but not without undesired consequences.

    1. anonanonanon

      Re: Fire and forget ...?

      They definitely consume batteries while idle, I doubt 4 hours is possible. More likely a higher end drone with 4km+ RC range and multiple batteries, taking off and landing at different locations, over countryside making it difficult to chase along roads quickly lost from eyesight. They're pretty much invisible over 500m away to the naked eye.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fire and forget ...?

        "They definitely consume batteries while idle, [...]"

        If it has been customised then "stand-by" will consume microwatts from the main battery. All that is needed is a RTC module with "wake-up" output - running off an independent coin cell. I use one in my Arduino Xmas lights controller - and the RTC is running happily after being in stand-by for nearly a year.

      2. cyberdemon
        Devil

        Re: Fire and forget ...?

        An inductive charging mat might come in handy?

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Fire and forget ...?

      It would seem to be possible to program

      Only if you know the airport very well.

      1. paulll Bronze badge

        Re: Fire and forget ...?

        Don't see why they'd need to know the airport all that well.

        On wake, fly to 51.1447, -0.2134 +- RND*.0004.

        Scratch balls RND*180 seconds

        Fly to [quiet spot 1]

        Land

        Power down

        On wake, fly to 51.1447, -0.2134 +- RND*.0004.

        Scratch balls RND*180 seconds

        Fly to [quiet spot 2]

        Land

        Power down

        etc...

        RTC module and uC doing the waking. Have a couple of units taking turns and you get a longer period of disruption, and redundancy.

        Be nice to know the approximate height and location of the perimeter fence but even that much is probably over-complicating things.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fire and forget ...?

      > He would not need to retrieve his drone from the hornets' nest of activity he has caused, as long as he had been careful not to let it be traceable back to him or his organisation

      That's possible but difficult. He would have to somehow buy the drone and prep it without getting any DNA on it or in it, even a single flake of skin dust, as you can be sure the authorities will dissemble and test every bit of it if they ever find it.

      And even if you manage to not add any of your own DNA, if there is any from the shop staff it would then tell the authorities where it was bought.

      So maybe not an instant arrest, but sooner or later your DNA or that of a close relative gets added to the database.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Fire and forget ...?

        DNA doesn't work like that.

        It's done by comparing specific samples. If they aren't currently on the "DNA database" then they'll never be found that way, and the bigger the database the less useful it becomes as the real rate of false matches would become public knowledge.

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: Fire and forget ...?

          The individual may not be on the database but it's likely a family member is. Many cases are solved by going after a family tree via a close DNA match.

          1. john.w

            Re: Fire and forget ...?

            And this Christmas thousands will be adding their DNA to a database when they send off their DIY test kit to FamilyTree et al.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fire and forget ...?

          No, if DNA is captured from the drone and sent to the DNA database then it will sit there as an unsolved crime until a matching profile is loaded or the police remove it.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Fire and forget ...?

          "DNA doesn't work like that."

          Indeed. Contrary to public perception, the best use of DNA is to _eliminate_ suspect, not match them.

          As with fingerprints, there aren't enough locii in use to accurately identify individuals when you start moving outside a database of "known dodgy folk" and "potential direct suspects"

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Fire and forget ...?

        He would have to somehow buy the drone and prep it without getting any DNA on it or in it, even a single flake of skin dust, as you can be sure the authorities will dissemble and test every bit of it if they ever find

        Attacker's threat model may say DNA recovery isn't a problem because (eg) their DNA isn't on the database in the first place, or they have reasonably good grounds to think they'll never get arrested and swabbed, or they don't care if they ARE positively made, eg they're planning to be back home in another country by that time.

  10. FlossyThePig

    Just a thought

    Do the people who fly more traditional RC aircraft (plane and helicopter models) now call them drones or is it a term only used by media types when referring to quadcopters and similar flying devices.

    Of course military "drones" are in a different league and can do serious physical damage.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Just a thought

      Named after the poxy whining noise they make...

    2. anonanonanon

      Re: Just a thought

      They differ in that they're pretty much self flying, operators only need to provide direction, if you lose signal, drop the controller etc, they'll just hover in place (Or circle for fixed wings), or even return home on their own.

    3. jezmck

      Re: Just a thought

      We pushed against the term for a long time, but now it's too universally adopted.

      I always went with "multicopter".

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Just a thought

        jezmck I always went with “multicopter”

        Well, it’s Right Over Flight Lanes, so.... ROFLcopter?

  11. devTrail

    Same old story

    I was used in the air traffic disruptions in August creating as much chaos as possible in the peak season in order to justify authoritarian measures. It worked well, now airport gates can be compared to nazi checkpoints.

    Now I've been a little bit caught by surprise because they targeted the beginning of th Christmas holiday season, but apart from that it seems the usual pattern.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old story

      "I was used in the air traffic disruptions"

      They strapped propellors to you and flew you around the airport?

      1. devTrail

        Re: Same old story

        No. They suddenly decided that I could not bring liquids into the gates area. Which isn't only a good excuse to snoop into my hand luggage, it is also a way to increase the sales of water at inflated prices in the airports malls.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Same old story

          thats weird. i usually fill an empty water bottle up after security. Both manchester and edinburgh security tell you where the taps are to do this if you have an empty bottle.

          1. devTrail

            Re: Same old story

            thats weird. i usually fill an empty water bottle ... if you have an empty bottle.

            As usual. There cannot be a private interest behind this decision because a tiny minority know how to avoid the problems caused by the decision. What actually happens taking into account the big numbers doesn't matter because corruption and private interests do not exist.

  12. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Pint

    Another theory

    If I wanted to build a second runway but was kiboshed by HM Govt....

    It might be tempting to demonstrate the benefits.

    1. tmz

      Re: Another theory

      So a drone attack would then inconvenience twice as many pax.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone see the drones ? Anyone at all ?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      These aren't the drones you're looking for.

    2. RancidRodent

      Anyone see the drones ? Anyone at all ?

      The only drones I've seen are the MSM swallowing this nonsense hook line and sinker. Cue some ultra restrictive anti-drone regulations/licensing designed to employ more big government pen-pushers and deprive the taxpayer of even more of their hard-earned to follow a hobby - meanwhile, the baddies will carry on doing exactly as they please - coz guess what? Criminals don't abide by the law! Whodathunkit?

      What this government-orchestrated hoax will do, is inspire copy-cat events after we've witnessed the devastating disruption that can be caused by an imaginary drone incursion. Just got to find a mentally ill person with a subscription to Drones Weekly to pin it on now - even better it some "right wing" angle can be construed.

      You can hear the drone of an over-worked shredder near you churning through another batch of dodgy MPs' expense claims, move along, nothing to see here - LOOK! A DRONE!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Anyone see the drones ? Anyone at all ?

        "The only drones I've seen are the MSM swallowing this nonsense hook line and sinker."

        What's the MSM? Does that include all news orgs who pay their staff? Are the "citizen journalists" the only ones not MSM?

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: Anyone see the drones ? Anyone at all ?

          MSM = MainStream Media.

          Ever heard of Google?

          1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: Anyone see the drones ? Anyone at all ?

            MSM = this poster doesn't believe in Occam's razor

            What they mean is that any new source that bothers following journalistic rules (that's the main stream bit) like checking facts and sources is highly suspect. Random on the internet are much better informed :)

            BTW rancid, they've arrested a couple of folks over it now. So it appears that not only the drones existed, but so did the pilots.

            They may yet turn out to be illuminati paid for by Soros and Clinton, rather than disgruntled locals but we'll have to wait and see :)

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Anyone see the drones ? Anyone at all ?

        @RancidRodent

        You've been posting here for two days now saying they don't exist, and frankly, even without your attempts to shoehorn in your anti-immigrant rants it's getting a little tiresome. Why don't you change it up for a bit and rant about vaccines or 9/11 being an inside job?

        Either half the Sussex Police force, several hundred journalists and the 50-odd people who have reported sightings are all in on the worlds most incoherent false flag operation or you're wrong. Perhaps you should stop typing for a minute and consider what it is that makes you doubt everyone else but not yourself, despite presumably being nowhere near Gatwick. You're all noise, no signal.

      3. aberglas

        Incompetance vs Malice

        There probably was a drone. A 500g consumer drone flying near the boundary. Which could do no serious harm to an airliner. Might possibly scratch the paint.

        That is the big question. How big were these supposed threats? If they were > 10 kg military style things then the threat would be real. And we would see photos.

        But I doubt that very much. The media is incapable of understanding numbers. So the 500g drone taking down an airliner makes perfect sense if you do not think about it much and just repeat a hyped up story.

        Then the powers that be bloat up the story to increase their own importance. And to introduce draconian regulations that suit their authoritarian views.

        Just like the idea that terrorists can make airliners blow up using a pocket knife or some magic liquid. Nonsense that is just never questioned.

  14. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    "environmental rights terrorists"

    Please don't use that word to describe people who aren't actually in the business of causing injury or death*. It's inaccurate and makes you sound like the Daily Mail.

    * I shouldn't have to say this but I probably do. Nothing in my post is meant to support or excuse the people behind this attack.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

      "Please don't use that word to describe people who aren't actually in the business of causing injury or death*. It's inaccurate and makes you sound like the Daily Mail."

      You don't have to actually be in the business of causing injury or death to be a terrorist - just threaten injury or death or destruction of property. If indeed (which I doubt - my money is on a couple of numpty kids) this was environmental activists of some kind then it is an act of terror - as in the threat of harm to life or property was caused by the actions of the drone flyers.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

        this was environmental activists of some kind then it is an act of terror

        Terror, I did not really see in pics and vids of the strandees at the airport.

        Maybe we need another category other than over-using the terror thing, Inconveniencers?

        Any other suggestions welcomed....

        1. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

          Terrorist - a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

          According to the dictionary. If they are activists and they are using unlawful intimidation against civilians they are terrorists. Just because people aren't running and screaming their upset is no less real.

          1. adam 40 Bronze badge

            Re: "terrorists"

            Terrorists - if the government says so.

            Otherwise - not terrorists.

            It's the government that defines this, and de facto creates "terror" or not, as the case may be.

            1. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: "terrorists"

              Oddly enough, that dictionary definition , the government fit it like a glove

          2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

            The legal definitions don't include intimidation.

            USA (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)

            "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives"

            UK Terrorism act 2006

            "terrorism is a violent action that:

            - Endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action

            - Involves serious violence against a person

            - Causes serious damage to property

            - Creates a serious risk to the public’s health and safety

            - Interferes with or seriously disrupts an electronic system"

            Now the last two do apply to these jokers at Gatwick, but lets be clear, legally a terrorist must be involved in violence, damage or serious risk to safety.

            Intimidation is it's own crime.

            1. cyberdemon
              Devil

              Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

              No, the last two do not apply to these jokers. All of those bullet points come under the heading:

              Terrorism is a violent action that:

              IANAL, but this reads to me that they must all be "violent actions". If there is no violence, or at least wanton destruction, then it can't be "terrorism".

              - Interferes with or seriously disrupts an electronic system

              e.g. blowing up subsea internet cables in the Bristol Channel or deliberately dragging an anchor to destroy them. (I worry about this sort of thing bringing the UK to a standstill at some point.. No more "cloud"! Most big shops can't even take Cash without the Internet.)

              - Creates a serious risk to the public’s health and safety

              e.g. throwing caltrops or burning bin bags off of motorway bridges. The M25 turns into a car park with just one breakdown.. Imagine the chaos someone could cause deliberately.

              --

              Whereas this drone, if there even was a drone, was just flying somewhere in the vicinity of an airport, probably minding its own business. It's illegal, due to the proximity to the airport, but not "terrorism" by a long shot. The only "terror" was caused by the media and airport management when they shut the whole place down at Christmas on a knee-jerk!

              TBH, all of this sounds to me like an excuse to "crack down" on drones in general, because the government sees them as a hazard. I think Mrs. May would like all of them banned except for her own manhacks authorised police drones.

        2. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

          But if no-one had noticed the first few overflights until one went through the windscreen of a fully laden long-haul heavy passenger jet climbing away from take-off, resulting in a few hundred deaths,.. would that have been terrorism?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

      "Please don't use that word to describe people who aren't actually in the business of causing injury or death*.”

      'Stop flying planes out of Gatwick or I'll ram this big RC toy into one during takeoff and any resulting deaths and injuries will be on you.’

    3. Uberior

      Re: "environmental rights terrorists"

      "environmental rights terrorists"

      That's exactly what they are, out to kill airlines full of passengers just in time for the Lockerbie anniversary.

      Pure evil.

  15. Luiz Abdala
    Boffin

    Lasers?

    You can't kill aircraft with lasers yet, but you probably can kill drones and birds. Enough overheating would disable the batteries but allow birds to survive...?

    I remember a certain project to kill female flies with lasers, and it was pretty efficient, despite not being cost-effective. 5000 dollars for the target recognition circuitry was a bit of setback, the rest being off-the-shelf parts, including the overpowered blu-ray laser emitter. Capable of recognizing and swatting over 90 flies +per second+. It ignored bees and other similar sized wildlife, actual species recognition included.

    Upscale everything and brainstorm from there....?

  16. Buzzword

    Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

    How much evidence of a drone do we actually have? The police reported fifty sightings, but that's from people primed to believe that any dot in the sky must be the drone. There's a video on Twitter which the videographer claims shows the drone, but is actually just the police helicopter looking for the drone. The handful of photos and videos show a tiny dot, which could easily be a bird. As for the people who claim to have seen the drone in the hours of darkness (or even dark + rainy) - that's highly improbable. The drone itself has supernatural powers: unheard-of battery life, ability to fly in the rain, larger than anything commercial yet small enough to disappear untraced.

    I believe this whole thing is a false positive. We've got the usual fear of new technology, jet-lagged passengers not thinking straight, and everyone primed to believe it's a drone. Nobody in officialdom is brave enough to point out that the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes, because the risk of being wrong is too great. There is simply no physical evidence that there was ever a drone.

    1. anonanonanon

      Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

      Ugh, yes drones can fly in bad weather and the dark, the battery life isn't exceptional as it was only over the airport for a few minutes at a time, with time to and from and takeoff locations, easily within the twenty minute flight times of modern drones, which come with quick change, quick charge batteries. Commercial/Professional drones are readily available to anyone willing to pay the cash.

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

      Stinkin’ drone lover!

    3. d2

      Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

      yup...TheSheeple must be controlled by hook or crook...alas, no questions asked...the official load of codswallop downed meekly by the unthinking&unwashed...

      Logic&critical reasoning be damned. Welcome to the 21st ct!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

      Why does this whole story remind me of UFO sightings, back in the day they were still fashionable?...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

        "Why does this whole story remind me of UFO sightings, back in the day they were still fashionable?”

        You mean when "The X-Files” was regularly on TV?

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

          You mean when "The X-Files” was regularly on TV?

          You better upgrade your UFO lore!

          Start here:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reported_UFO_sightings

          A most interesting remark about the Belgian UFO flap, which may have been triggered by F-117 trolling the Kingdom of the Plains:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_UFO_wave 1989-1990

          In 1992, about three years after the first sighting, which occurred on 29 November 1989, in Eupen, Marc Hallet wrote an essay about the Belgian UFO wave criticizing the work done by the SOBEPS: "La Vague OVNI Belge ou le triomphe de la désinformation", arguing that this UFOlogical organisation was spreading misinformation in the media. Hallet's thesis is that the Belgian UFO wave was mostly a mass delusion, boosted by the work done by the SOBEPS. This mass delusion would have followed Philip J. Klass's law: Once news coverage leads the public to believe that UFOs may be in the vicinity, there are numerous natural and man-made objects which, especially seen at night, can take on unusual characteristics in the minds of hopeful viewers. Their UFO reports in turn add to the mass excitement, which encourages still more observers to watch for UFOs. This situation feeds upon itself until such time as the media lose interest in the subject, and then the « flap » quickly runs out of steam.

          The biggest UFO flaps were in the 50s. There was a big one in France. And one in Washington D.C:

          The X-Files times is only relevant because that's when the US government actually started to kill its own people on its own territory, complete with smearing campaigns by the MSM, and it was all considered kosher.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

            "The biggest UFO flaps were in the 50s"

            - yes, mostly following screening of "The Invaders" 90% of UFO sightings followed the same pattern as seen on this

            - 1970s USA UFOs tended to be slow moving triangular things - until the F117 was exposed.

            - UFO abduction stories all took on more or less the same legend after Close Encounters was released.

            The 50s and 60s flaps ones were encouraged by the US military (they even infiltrated the UFO societies and hyped things up). It made it easier to hush up experimental aircraft sightings, etc. It finally came out recently that the "cattle mutilations" were attributable to military efforts to track radiation releases downwind of airburst nuclear detonations (removal of thyroid/liver as these concentrate iodine/caesium) and not wanting to cause panic by letting anyone know what they were doing (easier to have it attributable to little green men).

            Does anyone remember the Satanic Child Abuse in pre-schools flaps in the 1990s? There are STILL people convicted and imprisoned around the world for this, despite no physical evidence ever having been discovered, the accusers having been widely discredited and almost all the children involved at the time now saying they were coached into giving false evidence.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

            "That's when the US government actually started to kill its own people on its own territory, complete with smearing campaigns by the MSM, and it was all considered kosher."

            _what_ the US government was killing and smearing its own people about is more interesting.

            It came out in Ollie North's trial that CIA aircraft were used to fly hundreds of tons of cocaine into the USA in the early 1980s, as part of the complicated arrangements funding the Iran/Contra deal. That cocaine flooded USA inner cities, crashing the price and creating the crack epidemic. The guy signing off on authorisation for that was one Ronald Reagan - the same guy pushing the war on drugs.(*)

            The journalist who discovered and exposed the connections was driven out of his job and eventually committed suicide. By shooting himself. In the back of the head. Twice.

            (*) A "war on drugs" or a "war on terror" are very convenient if you're an authoritarian because you can't possibly win them. They're symptoms not causes. But you can use the fact you're not winning to take away freedoms....

    5. aberglas

      How big was the drone?

      That is the question. Was it a huge 10kg + that could actually damage an airliner, or a 500g hobby quadcopter.

      There probably was some sort of drone somewhere vaguely near the airport.

    6. tip pc Bronze badge

      Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/23/police-admit-may-never-have-gatwick-drone/

      So it now appears to have been miss identified incidents, with some confusing the police helicopter as the drone. This could be a giant own goal on th3 behalf of authorities. I’m guessing that’s why the airport was closed only briefly the last time on Friday as they where able to confirm no drones seen on radar.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

        "So it now appears to have been miss identified incidents, "

        And enough damaging statements made by Sussex police to ensure that one unlucky couple can collect 7-figures in damages should they feel so inclined.

    7. spold Bronze badge

      Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

      What we can deduce from this (ignoring the false positive or not) is that the threat has now been "sensitised".

      That means I don't even have to go to the expense of buying a drone in future, I can just make some reports of sightings or even send in a stock/photo-shopped image or two and this is likely now sufficient to cause a closure/disruption.

    8. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Mass hysteria, sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Emperor's New Clothes, false positives

      False positive? Maybe, maybe not. If it is, then presumably eco-whatevers who want to shut an airport can do it by organising mass phone-ins of people claiming to have seen drones near an airfield.

  17. elgarak1

    German airports have been on heightened alert for a few days. One of the suspects (a known islamic extremist, FWIW) had been triggering a security alert in France (at Charles de Gaulle Airport) just before he came over to Stuttgart. Flats and homes have been searched in connection with that, though no one was arrested or implicated in a cunning plan.

    Maybe (but that's highly speculative) there's a connection? Trying to shut down multiple airports across Europe? Unsubs scared away by security action here in Germany (and France) and tried it on the isles as long as it is easily possible to cross over?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A targeted "hoax".

      That is a strong possibility. Let a balloon/some lights flash in the sky, send out a false report of seeing a drone, get a load of airports shut down.

      Even worse, this could have been a failed attempt at something much more sinister.

  18. Steve Evans

    Clay pigeon shoot?

    What astonishes me about this story, is that they seemed so intent on finding the perps, they completely ignored all the people suffering.

    This is Gatwick, it's in the countryside(ish), I'm sure there are plenty of clay pigeon shooter in the area who would happily come and stand near the perimeter. I'm pretty sure a couple of cartridges of bird shot would have the same effect on a drone as it does to a pheasant.

    Problem solved.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Clay pigeon shoot?

      Range issues? Shooting into airspace occupied by passenger aircraft issues? Who knows.

      1. RancidRodent

        Re: Clay pigeon shoot?

        Er, the airspace wasn't contested - that's the whole point! What should have been flying was grounded and anything else would be at 30,000 feet. A decent goose hunter with the right shot would easily hit a drone at 300 feet, police marksmen with the "wrong" shotguns\shot and army snipers with sights and weapons designed to fire long and far have one in a million chance of hitting a drone unless it hovers in front of their nose.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Clay pigeon shoot?

          "army snipers with sights and weapons designed to fire long and far have one in a million chance of hitting a drone"

          "Excellent", said the ghost of Sir Pterry, "let;s got blasting then!"

  19. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    It was only a matter of time before some dronetard did this.

    Now, any bets on how long before some dronetard actually causes an in-flight collision?

  20. elgarak1

    I think people over-estimate how easy it is to shoot down the drones. Let's say there's a drone, and a guy (police, soldier, security) with a shotgun who sees it. The guy aims the shotgun, but the operator of the drone notices (either because they chose a good vantage point, or have good cameras, or spotters who help them, or whatever), so they zips the drone away out of sight, say, to the nearest trees, and lands. Sure enough, searchers are directed to where the drone vanished to, but I guess there's enough time for the operator to collect the drone and scamper away – it's a large area, difficult to search, with a vast array of hiding spots.

    If the operators are really clever and it is a targeted attack specifically to shut down the airport, they get a gang of people with specific purposes (spotters for observing countermeasures, pick-ups for the drone, etc.)

    And no, I'm not a terrorist, and never planned to do anything remotely similar to that. Just a simple scenario that pops up within seconds. I should write a thriller about that (if anyone does, I have a post to claim my rights ;) ).

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Bah!

      In WWII during Hitler's assault on our green and pleasant land, lone Spitfre pilots would bring down buzz-bombs by flying wing to wing with them and flipping them over!

      We didn't take any nonsense form the hun in those days, and we shouldn't take any nonsense from drones today!

      Slipping standards, wouldn't have happened under Winston, fought two wars, fought on the beaches, Dunkirk, Mafeking etc etc.

      Major Brainache (Mrs).

  21. elgarak1

    There have been over fifty confirmed sightings on the first day. I guess that counts as a targeted attack. It stopped because, a) the operator(s) achieved what they aimed for, or b) the response became massive enough to scare them away.

    I'm still a bit surprised that the re-opened without having anything to say about the perps. Maybe (very possibly) they know more than they say why they think it's safe to re-open.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      That would be "unconfirmed" sightings.

      Some of those will have been plastic bags, balloons, specks of dust, leaves and police helicopters.

      And presumably some of them were real.

    2. cantankerous swineherd

      pictures or it didn't happen.

  22. Patrician

    Has there been any actual proof that these drones ever actually existed, beyond "reported sightings"?

  23. itbod

    Not too far from Croydon

    It was probably foxes.

  24. GnuTzu Silver badge

    Cost?

    This little air-space denial exploit must be expensive as crap. I know authorities have been talking about this, but I think we're going to see some serious controls put in place--along with some serious penalties--much more than has so far been considered--including labeling this crap as terrorism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cost?

      Profit?

      How likely is it that someone is pumping and dumping stock or credit default swapping? A drone costs, what? a few k at most? Yes it would be risky and you could face jail time. But so would any other motivation for doing this!

      1. PerspexAvenger

        Re: Cost?

        If you're talking industrial drones they can get very expensive very quickly, but if you're of a technical bent you could spend a couple of hundred quid and put together something that can fly hands-off if needed. For quads you could easily build a few and send them up at an optimum time-spacing for maximum annoyance - I was also considering the feasability of a tiny petrol-engined fixedwing, which with an autopilot and enough fuel could get you enough loiter time to -really- ruin someone's day.

        1. GnuTzu Silver badge

          Re: Cost?

          Well, I was talking about the cost to the airport and the victims. But, I do think we are going to see drone-hunting drones--though I think there's a discussion about that earlier in the comments.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Cost?

        <mode = Jacques Clouseau> Yes, yes the credit default swapping you know!

        Er ... are you saying ... these drones are the work of sub-prime mortgage bundlairs?

  25. BazNav

    What happens next

    What happens next will shed a lot of light on who was doing this. If they're never seen again then we'll probably never find out. If they wait until the military and the police have left then start flying again at Gatwick then it's probably personal and somehow linked to Gatwick specifically. If it's environmental protesters or someone who wants to cause maximum disruption then they'll do the same at Stanstead tomorrow, then Luton just after Christmas and Heathrow over New Year.

    Whoever it is doing this has demonstrated a degree of planning and operational security awareness, so I doubt it's over.

    1. FlamingDeath Bronze badge

      Re: What happens next

      "Whoever it is doing this has demonstrated a degree of planning and operational security awareness, so I doubt it's over."

      My money is on the (in)security services

      Hearts & Minds

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What happens next

      "Whoever it is doing this has demonstrated a degree of planning and operational security awareness, so I doubt it's over."

      Or it was just ducks.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hostile State Attack?

    If they don't know who it is, how are they able to say it's not terrorism?

    I think it is an attack by a hostile (bear?) power to make UK look foolish.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Hostile State Attack?

      > to make UK look foolish

      Umm.... you know ...

  27. F0ulRaven

    How to push an agenda..!

    This story is amazing for how useless the authorities seem to have been.

    Anyone with any sense would have jammed the signal and just followed the drone home to whoever was controlling it, but they didn't - why?

    I think this was an PR campaign for a black ops type company who were doing this to help the various useless agencies who can now lobby for more powers, and extra funding for equipment - its win / win all around!

  28. elgarak1

    I agree with the assessment that it is (probably) not (islamic) terrorists, simply because there's very little terror – no one was running for their lives.

    There are a tone of other scenarios: extreme environmentalists protesting against air travel. Globalization activists protesting global travel and shipping. Stock market manipulation. Someone with a grudge against Gatwick Airport specifically. A kid having fun with their pre-opened gift at the wrong time and the wrong place (would have been more easily found and shut down, but it is not yet excluded.) A test run for something more sinister. A nutter having fun who vanishes early on because they noticed how stupid they were, and mass hysteria driving the rest. or or or...

    Speculation is fun! Let's write a novel!

    1. RancidRodent

      if this whole hoax was true, putting a large (but evidently invisible) drone in the path of incoming aircraft would be putting hundreds of people's lives at risk - in the air and on the ground. Sounds like terrorism to me. But of course it's absolutely NOT terrorism related - even thought the government profess to have no idea who actually did it or what their motives are. Of course that's not true, they know who did it (the hoax - them) and what the motive was (to scare us into allowing even more of our liberties to go bye bye at our expense) giving them the excuse to further increase big-government. Makes me laugh when people spit out the word "Tories" - this lot are SJW social democrats like the other two parties.

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      To be fair anyone who's experienced Gatwick has a grudge against it. But to the degree of expending energy....

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Preprogrammed drones

    Drone functionality is rapidly advancing. The perpetrator(s) may not have been anywhere near the site at the time of the event.

    The drones could've been 'placed' at their take-off site much earlier and pre-programmed with a flight path - this may have ended simply because the batteries got low.

    That would mean an awful lot of CCTV to work through...

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Preprogrammed drones

      Multirotor flight time is around 20-30 minutes.

      So if it was that type of thing, after maybe 3 hours at most there was no drone, just pure hysteria.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Preprogrammed drones

        ...assuming there was only one drone.

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Preprogrammed drones

          ....... assuming there was even one drone.

          There, FTFY

  30. Chris Gray 1

    machine gun?

    I've seen reasons why you can't use a shotgun (not enough accurate range) or a rifle (risk of bullet missing and doing damage/harm when it lands), but how about an old machine gun? I know nothing about firearms, but my impression from WWII movies is that those machine gun bullets wouldn't go that far (or be moving fast when falling to the ground), but there are much better chances of hitting a drone.

    1. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

      Re: machine gun?

      "old machine guns" fired much the same ammunition as machine guns today, with much the same velocity and kinetic energy. The old WW1 Vickers had a "map predicted" mode where you could fire them up in the air and assume they would strike say 2.5km away, where gravity would ensure they would have the energy to still kill.

    2. RancidRodent

      Re: machine gun?

      Older machine guns tended to have heavier rounds which are more of a nuisance to innocent bystanders.

      However perhaps a modern equivalent of the WW2 Sten (a 9mm sub machine gun) fitted to a tripod allowing no less than a 70 degree angle of fire loaded with a suppressor and (tracer) hollow point rounds (to reduce range and kinetic energy) keeping the firing arc within the airport's perimeter, of course it would have to be fired away from buildings/aircraft. It would be terribly inaccurate but I'm sure it would be accurate enough, in the right hands, to hit a commercial drone at the typical service ceiling of 400-500ft. I'd be more than surprised if a 9mm hollow point fired at a 70 degree angle from a sub machine gun/pistol could make it much further than a kilometre.

      It wouldn't be terribly difficult to incorporate a laser range-finder/target illuminator.

      1. Dog11
        Mushroom

        Re: machine gun?

        @RancidRodent I'd be more than surprised if a 9mm hollow point fired at a 70 degree angle from a sub machine gun/pistol could make it much further than a kilometre.

        The accepted maximum range of a 9mm bullet fired from a handgun is 2300m. Fired from something with a longer barrel, it would be a bit more. Range does depend on bullet weight, but hollow points tend to be about the same weight (and aerodynamics) as solids to make the ballistics about the same as solid bullets. Range also depends on muzzle velocity, which for typical 9mm cartridges will peak at about a 16 inch barrel, yielding a velocity increase of about 30% over a handgun's 4 inch barrel. That would give a max range of around 2990m. So are there any unprotected people within 3km of Gatwick?

    3. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: machine gun?

      I'm upvoting you because your view tallies with my own. We are (obviously) both incorrect, but since when did a question require a downvote?

    4. aberglas

      Re: machine gun?

      No, for such a serious threat as a 500g drone I reckon nuke the whole airport. That'll teach 'em.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason they haven't found the perps

    is that they were using encrypted communications.

    Now we have no choice but to ban encryption.

    ;)

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: The reason they haven't found the perps

      Amber alert!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is just an exercise in "managing expectations" by the authorities

    It's to warm people up to what Gatwick will look like on 30 March 2019...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surprised they haven't blamed the Russians yet

    Or North Korea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprised they haven't blamed the Russians yet

      They might have learnt their lesson about blaiming the Russians without any proof.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Update: They have a "Person if Interest". I really am struggling to contain my sarcasm over this whole fiasco.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Tug muh heartstrings

      The BBC has actually found people who absolutely wanted to take the plane to attend a marriage, funeral, family reunion or some other important event. For some the meds are running out. It's practically a Guatalumbian trek trying to break into Trump's America, thwarted by drone sightings.

  35. FlamingDeath Bronze badge
    Black Helicopters

    This episode reeks of...

    False flag PSYOPS

    Dont ask me why, just a gut feeling

    It's a great distraction though for the 24hours news cycle

    "All the world’s a stage,

    And all the men and women merely players;

    They have their exits and their entrances,

    And one man in his time plays many parts,

    His acts being seven ages"...

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: This episode reeks of...

      Dont ask me why, just a gut feeling

      I didn't ask you why, but you told me anyway. Pretty good going to shoot yourself down in the same sentence.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aliens

    Possible, if the craft had stealth mode to look like something smaller.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Aliens

      ..... or if the aliens were really rather small and the police couldn't find any evidence because the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.

      Apols to DA

  37. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Coat

    Round Two....

    Another drones popped up according to the BBC.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-46654797

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Round Two....

      So

      Gatwick drones: Airport reopens after latest suspension

      should really read

      Gatwick Airport: Drones reopen after latest suspension

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a solution that is very feasible and would be dead-reliable...

    Much cheaper than the multi-million dollar Drone Dome.

    More inherently reliably-effective.

    Minimal side-effects.

    The concept is presently with my employer's BD folks. This margin is too small...

    1. sysconfig

      Re: I have a solution that is very feasible and would be dead-reliable...

      So you were behind the drone nuisance to pitch your project next week? :P

  39. RancidRodent

    What drone?

    And the proof, despite thousands of eyes, mobile phones, usual airport CCTV over-kill and dozens of high-res TV cameras looking for the story that this drone actually existed is?...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: What drone?

      "And the proof, despite thousands of eyes, mobile phones, usual airport CCTV over-kill and dozens of high-res TV cameras looking for the story that this drone actually existed is?..."

      How many of those people are actually near the runways and flight-line? It sounds like you've never been to an airport and have no concept of the amount of area there is to cover.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: What drone?

        The press photogs have historically been able to get photos of celebrity boobs from over a mile away.

        The drone is supposedly bigger than boobs.

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: What drone?

      "proof", as you put it, (I'd say "evidence", which doesn't necessarily mean it's real) is presumably in the hands of Gatwick, the police and associated types. The lack of an official "Have you seen this drone?" image is not necessarily evidence there is NO drone, but they really do need to produce something if they don't want to end up as the punchline to a lot of TV comics jokes early next year.

  40. TJ1
    WTF?

    The only thing stacking up here is the holding pattern

    Am I missing something or do the reports and reactions of the airport not stack up?

    Originally we're told there were sightings of drone(s) at 21:03 on Wednesday. Then the further night-time reports (both sets of reports apparently from airfield personnel) So, rather dark. Being able to see and identify a drone would require it to be extremely close. Otherwise its just "lights in the sky moving in what appears to be a controlled manner".

    As a result the airport shuts down air operations.

    The 'reported sightings' in daylight don't add any clarity - many may well be false and/or mis-identified reports due to people being primed to expect 'drones'.

    Then this further - at this time apparently 'unconfirmed sighting' according to the BBC's report of the police statement - sighting Thursday, again after dark, and the air operations shut down again.

    The reaction seems like extreme over-reaction unless those in charge at the airport know something we've not been told. It's almost as if they had something in mind when 'drone' was reported and were reacting to that - e.g. possibly a prior threat to attack an aircraft with drones that was thought to be a hoax, so when a 'drone' is apparently detected they react to the prior threat, not this sighting.

    The reason I suggest this is we've had previous alleged near-misses and drone sightings by pilots and ground staff at various arifields across the world and not one of them has shut down air operations like this - so why is Gatwick reacting differently?

    1. RancidRodent

      Re: The only thing stacking up here is the holding pattern

      Could the multiple sightings from staff be a hoax dreamt up by a particular, ahem, brotherhood. A form of financial terrorism?

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: The only thing stacking up here is the holding pattern

      Then the further night-time reports (both sets of reports apparently from airfield personnel) So, rather dark. Being able to see and identify a drone would require it to be extremely close. Otherwise its just "lights in the sky moving in what appears to be a controlled manner"

      I invite you to reconsider your assumptions.

      [..] ...unless those in charge at the airport know something we've not been told.

      It's hard to believe the airport operators, police, military etc aren't live-streaming everything they do on YouTube. It's 2018 for heaven's sake!

      /s

  41. J J Carter Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Think abouit it

    30th anniversary of Lockerbie bombing and Gatwick is closed by sightings of tiny drones. Connection?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Think abouit it

      You mean the Powers that be will knowingly and falsely attribute this to a third-world tinpot dictator because it is politically convenient?

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Think abouit it

      Shake up, weeple!

  42. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    fast-tracked in January

    LOL - you think that the government will get anything done in January? They are way too busy arguing about BREXIT to worry about anything like this - what's a potential hazard to aviation compared to their worries about getting re-elected after BREXIT?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: fast-tracked in January

      They are way too busy arguing about BREXIT to worry about anything like this - what's a potential hazard to aviation compared to their worries about getting re-elected after BREXIT?

      They should be more worried about finding themselves in front of a tribunal of some British Peoples Republic in ten years...

      Between not giving the people what they think they still want or some horrendous compromise no one did and delivering something that cripples the nation and causes widespread damage.

      And what was the last fury in the House prior to and undeserved break-up for xmas? Who called who a bad name....

      All round, they've not been very good this year....

  43. jake Silver badge

    Out of curiosity ...

    ... did Openworks Engineering rush in to deploy their much hyped (and very British, don't you know) SkyWall 100? If so, how did it do? If not, why not? Asleep at the switch? Or just a boondoggle, as I suspect?

  44. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Tethered projectiles

    A bit late here but why not a tethered projectile?

    I've fired these things a few times, they are powerful enough to make a two inch hole through your head! Range approx: 250m

    If you could add a tracking system it would be perfect.

    This link just came up first after a search:

    https://www.marinair.co.nz/shop/Marine/Distress+Flares/Speedline+LTA+Rocket+Linethrower+per+unit%3Fsku=FL3027.html

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Tethered projectiles

      For that matter, what's the range of rubber/plastic bullets/baton rounds? The answer appears to be that no one seems to be able to spot the damn thing(s) from a close enough range for anything to be effective, no matter what they are armed with.

  45. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Coat

    Got Some Great Pictures

    https://www.reddit.com/r/ireland/comments/a80ro5/great_shots_today_with_the_drone_at_gatwick/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Got Some Great Pictures

      LOL!

  46. cider

    Fire with Fire

    Cant we just get a few of the UK Drone Champions to crash into or follow the drones, they are pretty skilled and would expect they could keep up with an erratic drone how about that Leo Whitfield he seems the right type of person and lives on the other end of the m4.

  47. Michael Kean

    Clive Peacock at it again?

    Maybe Clive's just annoyed about the amount of airmail being sent these days, and he just wants to keep his job.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Calm down people

    It's just an Amazon delivery gone AWOL.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See what happens when you can't sleep with eco-terrorists [sic] anymore.

    You just can't get good intel.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great to see the army being deployed.

    Good practice for the new type of "democracy" being planned for the end of March.

    :/

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don Tinfoil Hat

    What if the planes were not downed due to the drones. It could have been to cove up cover up some other giant fuckup, say russia had hacked into computer system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      some other giant fuckup

      What ? Like Brexit ?

      Weapons of Mass Distraction.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: some other giant fuckup

        What ? Like Brexit ?

        Weapons of Mass Distraction.

        The government sneaked off on holiday during the distraction after all...

  52. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Pint

    New Taskforce Brought Into Action

    https://dyn1.heritagestatic.com/lf?set=path%5B1%2F6%2F0%2F2%2F7%2F16027714%5D%2Csizedata%5B850x600%5D&call=url%5Bfile%3Aproduct.chain%5D

  53. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Latest news

    Two people arrested in connection with Gatwick droning incident.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-46657505

    1. Jacob's Elevator
      Terminator

      Re: Latest news

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6522089/Two-people-arrested-criminal-use-drones-Gatwick-Airport.html

      'He couldn't have been flying a drone over Gatwick, he was fitting windows at the time!'

      Yeah, it may not have been he but who's out fitting windows between 9pm and Midnight?

      I suppose that would infer extra-spectacular eyesight and perhaps the deployment of robots?

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: but who's out fitting windows between 9pm and Midnight?

        Depends. If it's Windows 10 and you want to get working as soon as the updates are finished, it could be anytime.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: but who's out fitting windows between 9pm and Midnight?

          > Yeah, it may not have been he but who's out fitting windows between 9pm and Midnight?

          You'd be surprised. The office I'm in at the moment gained a new door into the corridor overnight last Wednesday. Hole cut in wall, door fitted, all mess removed by the morning. If I hadn't been working in there the day before I'd never have realised.

  54. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    "No longer suspects"

    The suspects have now been released. But there's a considerable amount of information now about them in the public domain which is very concerning. Makes a mockery of the "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" argument.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "No longer suspects"

      The suspects have now been released. But there's a considerable amount of information now about them in the public domain which is very concerning. Makes a mockery of the "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" argument.

      Their mugs splashed all over the red-tops. Peoples photos should be withheld from the papers until charged I think - but that's not conducive to selling trash news.

      'If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear' has already been long mocked, just ask Cliff Richard.

      I think it's 'if you look like you've got nothing to hide, you must be hiding something really nefarious.'

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure the Daily Fail will be publishing a front page apology tomorrow to the already-cleared couple who they plastered over today's front page.

  56. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Talking of chaos, what the *bleep* has happened to the comments? I know I need reading glasses, but this is ridiculous.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: what the *bleep* has happened to the comments?

      Control + in Firefox makes the text bigger, if that's what you mean.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: what the *bleep* has happened to the comments?

        No, it's the layout as well as the size. It used to be in a nice neat column in 100% font size, with replies neatly laid out after. Now it's across the whole screen at something like 150%-200% with replies seemlingly taking up twice as much space.

        Edit: ah! a bit of experimentation, somehow 'Sort by nested thread' had got selected which makes a right pair of danglies of the the layout. Selecting 'Sort by oldest' does a stty sane.

  57. Tom Paine Silver badge
    WTF?

    Guys...

    Now don't shoot the meesenger, OK?

    Police tell BBC News they “cannot discount the possibility that there may have been no drone at all”.

    https://twitter.com/TomPugh212/status/1076874388761440260?s=19

    Yeah, that's pretty much what I said, too. I shouldn't really have sneaked a look a Twitter during the service, but the family were very understanding when I showed them.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Guys...

      I did wonder - having seen the weaponry that plane watchers employ around airports I was very surprised there were no pictures of the molecular structure of the drone.

      Some have said its an organised distraction from the government but it was far too successful to have any government involvement.

  58. SteveTM

    One thing that is absolutely certain in all of this, is that yet again peoples names have been released and published with no charges having been brought. Clearly the press has learnt nothing and been taught no long lasting lesson. Now these two people that were arrested and released without charge have had their names and photographs widely circulated by the press for something which they have nothing to do with. I hope they sue, they have every right.

    As for drones, we need a change in law and we need a register with every drone having a unique number and that being registered against the owner with retailers legally obliged to see a drone registration card and register that drone with that person at the time of sale. In addition I think every airport needs to have a Rafael Drone Dome on-site with personnel on-site 24/7 who can be immediately deployed with the system to defend the airport against such events in the future. This is 2018 and this is the price of progress and its also an early warning of what may be to come and now is the time to react.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > In addition I think every airport needs to have a Rafael Drone Dome

      Why do you want every airport to spend money on a system that has failed to work at Gatwick?

      Failed in the sense that there have been drone sightings at Gatwick after the system was installed so clearly it isn't working.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Whooooosh!!!

  59. macaroo
    Linux

    Duck Hunt

    Why not post some professional duck hunters with long barrel 12 ga. shotguns with the special duck hunting ammo. I am sure they would love the opportunity to sharpen their shooting skills and to provide a public service

  60. Gordan

    TV Detection Vans?

    If the authorities cannot find an active transmitter for controlling the drone, how on earth is anyone supposed to believe that they have the technology to pinpoint people watching TV (passive receiver) without a licence?

  61. HALHAL

    This is what happened:

    A government drone, of some military or spy service, got snagged doing some mission at or near Gatwick and the police ended up with it, all broken, which they truthfully reported: "We have a damaged drone."

    The government agency, a bit later, got ahold of the police leadership and said, "Hey, STFU about our drone, give it back, and issue some cover story so this thing dies, now."

    Which they did.

    End of story.

  62. Milton Silver badge

    How many drones does it take ...?

    One the one hand a DCS says that because the police have only eye-witness accounts (nothing photographic) it is conceivable there were no drones at all. Whereas I hear DoT claim there is at least one bit of video footage. A dead drone is found near the airport, but dead drones lost in out-of-the-way spots are common now anyway. We were told these were "large commercial-type" drones early on, later to hear that actually no one really had a clue what kind they might be. It's all very uncertain, isn't it? In fact, it began to smell like a dodgy kipper at least four days ago.

    It occurs to me that one drone seen by 40 different people can easily become many drones. That near a very busy airport with big jets (even A380s fly from LGW) the "multiple sightings near a runway" (very hard to judge range, so "near" could mean "hovering over the threshold" or "500 yards beyond") causes justifiable concern, followed by the old abundance-of-caution reaction. That the possibility of a twinjet at MTOW losing an engine to FOD on climbout turns "abundance" into "excessive" for perfectly understandable reasons. That pretty soon, in crappy winter weather and short days, everything from a seagull to a floater in your eyeball becomes a drone. That confirmation bias kicks in, plus folks excitedly telling each other that they just saw another one ... a single sighting turns into a fleet of X-Wings en route to the Death Star.

    Pretty soon an early Xmas present unwisely but innocently used once by a clueless teenager becomes a national disaster.

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: How many drones does it take ...?

      innocently used once by a clueless teenager becomes a national disaster.

      Or it becomes a wonderful opportunity. - but not for the teenager or the rest of us plebs...

    2. aberglas

      Re: How many drones does it take ...?

      The big question is, what happens when a 500g drone hits a 100 ton airliner. Answer: nothing at all.

      Maybe a 10kg monster drone could do some damage, possibly knock out an engine, but still not sink the plane. A 100kg military "drone" filled with explosives, sure.

      But SECURITY! TERRORIST! RULES! REGULATIONS!

      It is mind boggling that they would shut an airport on such vague information. Are we really that risk adverse? Planes do fall out of the sky for lots of reasons, maybe we should shut the airport permanently?

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: How many drones does it take ...?

      That the possibility of a twinjet at MTOW losing an engine to FOD on climbout turns "abundance" into "excessive" for perfectly understandable reasons.

      Having guessed that's "maximum take-off weight" and looked up "foreign object damage", the question that naturally follows is whether a twin-engined aircraft at max t/o weight losing an engine as it climbs away from the runway should be anything more dramatic than the engine-shutdown checklist, a lot of fuel being dumped at low altitude before the a/c lands back where it took off? Cos even MJN Air lost an engine on their elderly 737 on takeoff and lived to tell the tale - S3E6 was it? St Petersburg? Not on iPlayer or YT alas.)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: How many drones does it take ...?

        "whether a twin-engined aircraft at max t/o weight losing an engine"

        https://www.mercurynews.com/2010/02/17/plane-crash-kills-3-tesla-motors-employees-striking-fear-in-east-palo-alto-neighborhood/

        ElReg's article:

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/18/tesla_palo_alto_plane_crash/

        My initial take on the subject:

        https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2010/02/18/tesla_palo_alto_plane_crash/#c_698489

  63. greenwood-IT

    Spare Drone Dome?

    I do hope that that Drone Dome is a spare and hasn't been removed from it's job of protecting our military. I'd hate to think we are putting our servicemen and women at risk just so kids and see Santa in Lapland this Christmas.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Spare Drone Dome?

      Let's hope there is some spare change in the defence budget to fit them to the QE Class Carriers

  64. Afernie
    Black Helicopters

    Well, got the Brexit clusterfuck off the front page for a day or two...

    But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

  65. Tom Paine Silver badge

    ...SUBS!

    Nobody knows quite why they haven't been caught yet, though one theory is that they may be environmental rights terrorists.

    Are environmental activists uncatchable, then?

    1. rwbthatisme

      Re: ...SUBS!

      Yes when no crime was committed it’s hard to catch Criminals

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget about jet fighters, tanks, ships, and troops. France can now bring the UK to its knees with drones.

    You need to get this sorted, now. Long prison sentences for such socially upheaving acts; onerous financial penalties, and a swift, effective response to stop drones in the future.

    You are the laughingstock of the world this Christmas.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      France can now bring the UK to its knees with drones.

      If (Yellow) Hi-Visibility Vests were around at the time of Napoleon, we'd all be speaking French!

  67. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Would Scoff-laws Comply With Laws Or Could It Be The Government Generating Support For Legislation?

    If the alleged operators of these alleged drones - recent reports suggest they might not actually exist - likely they would not comply with any law or regulation. If they are technically savvy they wouldn't be using WiFi (AKA ISM or Industrial, Scientific and Medical) bands.

    There is plenty of assigned spectrum that they could use including that allocated to military or cell systems so as to minimise 'visibility'.Similarly, there are several modulation techniques that wouldn't attract the attention of the would be government interceptors.

    It would help, also. if the intent of the interceptors could be determined. The arrest, by Sussex Plod, of a married couple described as a average people, who own a dog, one of whom is a hard working builder, demonstrates the mindset of 'relevant authorities' since it was essentially an 'own goal'. Next they will be arresting birds, of the feathered kind, to demonstrate their acuity.

    The most effective way to disrupt airport operations is to jam the air-air and air-ground communications, using vehicle mounted transmitters, so that pilots lose 'the big picture' or let loose a flock of Canada geese which have a proven record of disrupting flight operations.

    Strange this has only occurred in Britain.

  68. FuzzyTheBear

    anti-drone ... o.0 ?

    Why would this be anything but a plot by makers of anti-drone systems that just try to sell their systems by scaring the public who all of a sudden are demanding action? We seen this type of behavior before.

  69. Zarno

    An interesting take on this.

    Here's an article with an interesting take on all of this.

    https://hackaday.com/2018/12/26/ooops-did-we-just-close-an-airport-over-a-ufo-sighting/

    1. tip pc Bronze badge
      Alien

      Re: An interesting take on this.

      I was wondering the same.

      Technically they where ufo sightings but why where they buzzing Gatwick, surely there must be more interesting places in the uk to buzz around.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drones and media coverage

    So, there was a drone and the couple were alledged to have done it but then released without charge (even though the media and social media went to town on them)

    Now there saying there is no drone? at all but a bill now going through (which non-law abiding people will ignore anyway).

    Investigation not really going anywhere?

    Was the drone at a church near to the runway? Where is McClane when you need him?

  71. noddybollock

    errr PROOF ???

    anywhere

  72. TJ1
    WTF?

    New info from Police Dec 29th

    Sussex Chief Constable today tells us that two drones that have been found in the area have been ruled out of the investigation and there were 115 reports of drone sightings with 92 from apparently credible witnesses.

    Oh, and the Police were flying their own drones in the area which could be what some witnesses reported.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: New info from Police Dec 29th

      So the consensus is that it was mass hysteria?

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: New info from Police Dec 29th

      Oh, and the Police were flying their own drones in the area which could be what some witnesses reported.

      Ah, a (Police) Dog chasing it's own tail

  73. Aynon Yuser

    It wasn't too long ago that I was saying that drones would be used by troublemakers. Military use them for warfare and they expect terrorists to not use them too?

    Another prediction. It won't be long before they can carry a small explosive payload such as thermite/thermate that can get sucked into the engine of a plane.

    Having rules and regulations might...*MIGHT* scare a child from flying their 7-11 store drones near airports, but it won't scare them all. Did people stop pointing laser pointers at helicopters and planes when they were threatened with laws? Do you think terrorists are going to be scared of laws? Have they ever been?

    Just wait for one of Tronald Dumps fanclub members to take action.

  74. Keith Tayler

    If there were drones there must be radar plots of them. Gatwick, like all major airports, is bathed in microwaves which can identify birds kilometers from the runway. Surely we should say, if there are no radar plots there are no drones.

  75. amelia22brown

    https://gettingthedealthrough.com/area/78/jurisdiction/1/initial-public-offerings-new-zealand/

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