back to article It'll soon be even more illegal to fly drones near UK airports

New British drone laws being introduced in the wake of the London Gatwick airport drone fiasco will give police greater powers – but would not have stopped the chaos that shut the airport down for days during peak holiday season. Announced in Parliament yesterday, the new powers (implementation date TBC) will allow PC Plod and …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    The silence is deafening

    So far nobody else has been identified or arrested over the shutdown.

    Curious how the story has rapidly been squashed, and not one enterprising journalist has written anything about why, given the massive disruption, nothing much has been done.

    Gatwick, Heathrow and Edinburgh have apparently bought unspecified (but very expensive) anti-drone technology, but it would be interesting to see what would actually happen if someone reported drone sightings this week...

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: The silence is deafening

      Aaaand... six pm Monday, Heathrow's just closed down due to a drone sighting...

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: The silence is deafening

        Oops!

        Hehehehe...

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: The silence is deafening

      I haven't kept fully informed on this, but searching for "gatwick drone may have been police department" brings up many hits on DDG, but I don't think many are reputable news publications.

      Police drones may have added to Gatwick Airport shutdown, police admit. 08:32, Dec 30 2018. ... well," York said after being questioned about a previous report that there may have been no drone at all...

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: The silence is deafening

        chivo243

        "searching for "gatwick drone may have been police department" brings up many hits on DDG, but I don't think many are reputable news publications."

        Sarcasm?

        If you had kept up on this you will know that drone clubs have said that the event could not have happened the way "reputable" publications are saying mostly due to the battery life of drones. They don't fly for hours, just minutes. "Repultable" publications have claimed that the drones were highly modified to fly for extended periods. This would be like saying the highly modified electric car can go ten times as far with the same performance as the standard one. Easy to say but never been done.

        Some speculation links the event to the sale of Gatwick to a French company just after. To me it seems just as likely to do with the legislation they wanted to pass. Drones can be pretty handy tools for truth seekers so it's good if the police have a list of addresses to raid.

        The problem with registration is you make yourself a target.

        1. anonanonanon

          Re: The silence is deafening

          I'm not sure saying drones fly for "minutes" conveys the around 20-25 minute flight times of prosumer and pro drones, which is plenty time of for a drone to fly several km, hover for a few minutes and return, so I'm not sure how knowledgeable your sources are.

          For example, a DJI Matrice, a fairly pro drone, but easily purchased, is large heavy and legit concern to an aircraft can fly in bad weather, has several KM range with controller, usually come supplied with multiple batteries to fly multiple missions.

          I've seen lot of comments from people who claim to be knowledgeable on drones claim these things impossible, but I can only presume they are familiar with the toy drones you get in Tescos rather than modern drones that have come out in the last few years.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The silence is deafening

        "I haven't kept fully informed on this, but searching for "gatwick drone may have been police department" brings up many hits on DDG, but I don't think many are reputable news publications."

        If you leave "department" off the list, it might get different results. We don't have "police departments" in the UK.

    3. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: The silence is deafening

      "Curious how the story has rapidly been squashed, and not one enterprising journalist has written anything about why, given the massive disruption, nothing much has been done."

      I"m not sure nothing is quite what I'd say has happened. Seems plenty of people deployed, some fancy kit from the army and rounding up all the drone owners :D

      Part of the issue appears to be that there isn't an effective method to stop this. While it's entertaining to read the various eagle/shotgun/laser solutions, it's clear that there isn't a simple one available. There also seemed to be plenty of stuff written about it at the time, including much discussion about whether the drone(s) existed at all.

      Considering just how many people want to believe things that are obviously bollocks, and how clever they think they are*, I'd have been shocked if people would accept the given line, even if it agrees with Occam's razor.

      * Note to those denying the moon landings: Neil Armstrong is not impressed by you confronting him with the "truth"

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The silence is deafening

      "Curious how the story has rapidly been squashed, and not one enterprising journalist has written anything about why, given the massive disruption, nothing much has been done."

      There are far fewer journalists going out there looking for stories, they have been replaced with reporters who just report what they get told in press releases or other announcements.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keystone Cops

    On balance I think it's likely the fabled drone(s) did not actually exist, especially since a senior member of the police came forward and speculated the very same. What baffles and frightens me is that not a single news organisation actually investigated the sightings and simply took what the authorities claimed as fact. Would it really have been so difficult to film the skies for an hour or two during the shutdown? Instead we got endless interviews with confused and frustrated members of public whose holidays had been ruined!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Fire in a cinema".

      Also springs to mind. If the papers had not reported it, would claims be reduced to actual sightings, and not crazies?

      1. hellwig Silver badge

        Re: "Fire in a cinema".

        It's 2018, there's not a single cell-phone video of the drone? I can't believe that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Headmaster

          Re: "Fire in a cinema".

          It's 2019, actually. Things are much better.

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: "Fire in a cinema".

          There is a single picture published by several newspapers with no followup.

          First page of the Daily Beobachter if memory serves me right.

        3. anonanonanon

          Re: "Fire in a cinema".

          I can easily believe it, even filming one up close, let it fly off 50m and you'll have a very hard time seeing one on a camera phone

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Keystone Cops

      You try filming "the sky" for "an hour or two". Then watch it to see if there's something that might possibly be a drone flickering somewhere in the distance.

      Bear in mind "the sky" is more than just one direction, so it's going to take a lot of cameras to watch the whole thing.

      Let's make up some numbers, just for fun. Let's assume (optimistically, but you gotta start somewhere) that the drone is going to be 30 cm across, in whatever dimension we happen to see it. And we want to be able to spot it at least 2 km away. At that range, it's going to cover an arc of about 0.008 degrees in the sky. If your camera records a picture width of (let's say) 4000 pixels, then a single camera can be trusted to watch about 30 degrees (horizontally, about half that vertically) of sky at high enough resolution to capture the drone as a single pixel. (That's assuming the camera doesn't use some kind of lossy compression, of course.)

      So, set up 30 cameras to watch 180 degrees of sky to a height of 75 degrees. In the rain. When you've analysed the resulting 30 hours of video, let us know if there was a drone in it. I look forward to hearing back from you. (And note that the area this experiment monitors is only a small fraction of the exclusion zone described in these rules, so a negative result is still far from conclusive. To cover the whole area, you'd need to be watching - considerably more cameras at this resolution.)

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: Keystone Cops

        veti,

        Gatwick was shut down for days due to alleged drones sightings and you believe there was an invisible UFO holding the airport hostage. During that time thousands of people would have had nothing to do but look for the drone. If someone spots the drone they will point it out to everyone and someone will have a suitable camera.

        It is not credible that there was a drone.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keystone Cops @veti

        That's silly, of course you don't need to observe every cubic centimetre of sky!

        The only possible justification for keeping the airport shut continuously for over a day is if there were regular sightings of one or more drones. Who reported these sightings and where were they located at the time? Answering those questions would narrow the region of interest down significantly. Any journalist worth their salt should have been able capable of following this basic line of investigation yet apparently not a single one did so.

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Keystone Cops @veti

          "Who reported these sightings and where were they located at the time?"

          IIRC airport staff mainly, some of whom were outside the terminals at the time. Of the 93 accounts the cops took, none were from members of the public.

          The term "sightings" seems to have suggested to certain people that they actually saw the drone. From my experience with the little buggers, you can hear a drone (and any aircraft in general) much more easily than see it, and it can be hard to even get the right direction based off that.

          You'll note that at no point has a description of the drone has been released. But if you're standing on a runway and can hear a drone's rotors, it's almost certainly in controlled airspace.

          "Any journalist worth their salt should have been able capable of following this basic line of investigation yet apparently not a single one did so."

          They did. But apparently google is broken in your neck of the woods, so don't let that stop the fud :D

      3. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

        Re: Keystone Cops

        @veti

        I would quote parts of what you said however all of it is simply silly.

        Use your head. Havnt the police said that they have something like 60 credible reports (out of many more) that indicate a drone? 60 pairs of eyes at least saw something. Thats 120 HUMAN eyeballs that saw something (ok maybe the same pairs saw multiple sightings). If they saw it then the phone in their pocket certainly can. If they saw it multiple times then they are all totally incompetent to to have remembered to whip out the smartphone to grab some evidence. If any of these pairs of eyes were oficials working at the airport they are doubly totally incompetent in not recording anything. Bloody hell it aint that hard.

        Thats not to mention the many more pairs of eyes that were present at the airport that could whip out the phone or as they were holiday makers, the enthusiast DSLR's. I'm sure a few of them also had or used drones so maybe they would have been even more motivated to try and capture the perp?

        As for monitoring the sky? Its dead easy. You only have to point a few DSLR's in the right directions. You can monitor the whole sky! A 50mm lens covers 40 degrees so 360 continuous coverage would need only 9 cameras on a set of tripods. But get 9 humans to watch the sky together and let them record it when they spot something. You dont need to have these capture the details of the drone, just where this "thing" is and where it went as part of the evidence.

        Bird watchers would be best.

        WHy hasnt anyone asked why when this happened to gatwick in 2017 that they didnt look to implement anti-drone measures like with Southend airport?

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/11/southend_airport_drone_detection/

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40476264

        Honestly, it looks like a few people need to get fired or have a stern talking to. If some group of people were to claim that the aliens had landed on their local green and demanded all their women, wouldnt you expect them to have some video or photo evidence or just say "Oh ok there are 60 of you all saying the same shit, I believe you and will go out and get the stuff I need to defend my women".

    3. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Keystone Cops

      Instead we got endless interviews with confused and frustrated members of public whose holidays had been ruined!

      Personal interest story used to be a new angle, but mostly fit only for 'That's Life' or 'Nationwide' now it's used instead of real investigative journalism.

      I don't know if anyone has noticed, but BBC news is increasingly articles of this sort.

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: Keystone Cops

        Teiwaz, I never used to be anti-semetic but I have come to loath the BBC.

        1. Radio Wales
          Flame

          Re: Keystone Cops

          You're not alone, while pleading poverty, they seem to think putting a reporter up in a helicopter to deliver a one-minute report about something which nobody can see is diligent use of resources.

      2. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: Keystone Cops

        >I don't know if anyone has noticed, but BBC news is increasingly articles of this sort.

        The BBC used to call that section "Magazine" now it is "Stories". Articles under those categories are not produced by the news team and are not subject to the same editorial standards.

      3. DropBear Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Keystone Cops

        Generally speaking no news seems to be properly proper anymore unless you can present them by interviewing some personally affected idiot that the audience is supposed "emotionally bond" with or something. It's a personal pet peeve of mine having to start watching even air crash investigation shows halfway into the show because the first half is invariably introducing a bunch of irrelevant folks and whatever it is what they were doing that day and during the accident and after the crash and all their anguish and fear and post-traumatic miseries haunting them every day of their lives following it. Meanwhile, I only care about the reason of the crash having been failure to regularly grease the wrong nut...

        1. Red Bren
          Headmaster

          Re: Keystone Cops

          "I only care about the reason of the crash having been failure to regularly grease the wrong nut..."

          Surely failing to grease the wrong nut would not cause an accident, whereas regularly greasing the wrong nut might...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Keystone Cops

            Surely failing to grease the wrong nut would not cause an accident,

            -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            Alaska Airlines Flight 261, 31 January 2000, 88 fatalities.

            The jackscrew nut was the wrong nut to fail to grease.

    4. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Keystone Cops

      It's {Current Year} and the meda do as they are told. They are told the news is to be of a drone shutting down Gatwick and they run it. What journalist worth his salt is going to throw away his career by independently investigating and contradicting the absolute god's honest truth that he has been told already? Leave that to the Internet.

      The police were unfortunately not told what the story was going to be so did try to find out what was going on and ended up looking very stupid. "Oh, we think the only drone sightings were of our police drone", dumb dumb dumb. They could have used the police drone sightings as proof there was a drone.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drones with a mass of 249g, thousands of 'em

    With the proposed legislation requiring operators of drones of over 250g to register and take an online competence test then presumably the 'bad guys' will just operate a huge cluster of 249g drones to bring chaos, and maybe somewhere other than an airport. The police meanwhile will cause airport shutdowns for days on end totally unaided.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Drones with a mass of 249g, thousands of 'em

      Or, you know, there is a chance the "bad guys" might just break the law.

      It's not exactly hard to build an autonomous, GPS guided drone for a couple of hundred quid, using open source software and components.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Drones with a mass of 249g, thousands of 'em

        If you are paying a couple of hundred quid you are paying way too much. Buy it ready built from Hong Kong for less than £60.

        1. Seriouscyrus

          Re: Drones with a mass of 249g, thousands of 'em

          Parrot have the anafi, competitor to drones like the mavic air, while it doesn’t have obstacle avoidance, it is built to be light so you can get around these restrictions. Unlike a cheap drone from china, it has a 4k good quality camera and around a 25min flight time and a decent range, it is also significantly quieter than pretty much any drone on the market. While many dismiss it over DJI drones, it is a really nice drone with many advantages, one of my absolute favourites.

          I really doubt it poses a significant risk to aircraft,and by saying that i’m in no way endorsing it to fly in stupid situations, or for any nefarious reasons, it’s a solid drone to use where restrictions apply (and where no restrictions apply)

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Drones with a mass of 249g, thousands of 'em

        But that's perfectly okay, because the fuzz will now have the right to lawfully steal any carbon fibre rod stock / brushless motors / LiPo batteries whenever they feel like it from you, along with any Arduinos you might have and your suspicious 3D printer you might try printing some propellers with, because you might be using them to DIY a drone for your tyke to fly at 5m in your back yard (unlawfully failing to consume by buying a lobotomised DJI toy as any proud member of a capitalist society ought to); while those intending actual harm laugh all the way to the bank somewhere else, blissfully unmolested by the long but apparently not nearly long enough arm of the law.

  4. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    Quick!

    Someone invent a mobile phone that flies... um, I mean a flappy wing aircraft... I mean, a balloon...

    What I mean is, it's a sad world where things need to be spelt out "or with a mobile phone" or "or with a drone". :/

    Yes, some things are not obvious (I hid a leopard in that room, so perhaps a sign of warning might be helpful)... but other times, it is obvious!

  5. Cuddles Silver badge

    99 luftdrones

    Could be worse, at least we didn't get a nuclear war. This time.

  6. Maelstorm Bronze badge

    Hmm...

    And here in the good ole U.S.A., we have a regulation issued by the FAA that drones must be registered, a fee paid, and the drone must have an ID number on it. This rule was established in 2015. However, in 2017, the rule was amended so that this only applies to drones that fly for commercial use. Drones that fly for fun do not need to be registered.

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Hmm...

      Maelstorm, I think your information is a bit out of date. As of late 2018, updated FAA regulations state that "recreational fliers and community-based modeler organizations must register." To wit, "Even if you're only flying in your backyard, drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds* must be registered." And the operator as well.

      "Certificated** Remote Pilots including Commercial Operators" can fly craft up to 55 pounds (25 Kg) but still must register the craft and, of course, the operator.

      I fly fixed wing RC and the groups I belong to have been watching this fairly closely. Due to the idiocy coming from a subset of multi-rotor operators, we may ultimately get onerous regulation of us generally more responsible club-based fixed wing operators as well.

      *250 grams

      ** something wrong with Certified?!?

  7. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    News...

    News just said there is another close down.

    Welp, new law made a big difference.

  8. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Ultimately pointless

    Anyone wanting to cause disruption doesn't need a drone; they simply need to report the definite sighting of a non-existent one.

    Has it ever been this easy to completely shut down Heathrow for an hour?

    And what happens when all our major airports close, because of actual drones or false reports of drones?

    I think I can predict the Next Big Scare (TM) : Chinese Sky Lanterns.

    s/Chinese/[Russian|Iranian|North Korean|Syrian]/

    1. Radio Wales
      Alert

      An exciting new opportunity

      I'm sure it must have occurred to nefarious minds by now that a squad of twenty people could isolate Britain better than Brexit. New laws or no, this is going to be the new development in 2019 prompting the question: Is this the new age of drones carrying anti-drone missiles?

      Am I making too much of the fact that larger drones seem to be of Chinese origin?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An exciting new opportunity

        "I'm sure it must have occurred to nefarious minds by now that a squad of twenty people could isolate Britain better than Brexit."

        Or two people, with a number spoofing VOIP setup and an audio processor to vary the sound of their voice.

        No drones needed.

        Of course, you can branch out to 'men with guns', suspicious packages, and so on, all over the country, in offices, train stations, docks, bus stations, factories, distribution centers, trains themselves, ferries, schools, and whatever else inspires you. Or just point the sightings out on social media and let other 'confirm' them when they 'see' the 'drones'.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Ultimately pointless

      "Has it ever been this easy to completely shut down Heathrow for an hour?"

      Yes. It used to be bomb threats, or even just report a suspicious bag/package.

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Priorities

    I think it would be far more productive if the Met. were to crack down on all those Central London drones, you know, the ones in and around that long building by the Thames.

  10. Big Al 23

    Unfortunately...

    ...it's impossible to legislate evil out of society. Only law abiding citizens follow law. More appropriate responses are required for crims.

  11. David Pearce

    The devil is in the details.

    Just CAA licensed aerodromes is a long list:

    https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Airports/Aerodrome-licences/Certificates/UK-certificated-aerodromes/

    But will this also get extended to include military and the recreational airfields?

    London City stops most of the centre of London

    1. The Mole

      Not flying within 50m of people or 150m of congested areas probably excludes most of the centre of London anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not flying within 50m of people or 150m of congested areas probably excludes most of the centre of London anyway.

        ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        It actually excludes most of the places where people live, and most of the places most of the people can get to in a reasonable amount of time, at least.

  12. David Pearce

    I have never understood how helicopters are allowed over London, a much greater hazard to anyone on the ground than a surveillance drone

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Or Helicopters near football pitches or near hospitals.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Because they have a ditch path (the thames) and can autorotate in the event of engine failure.

      Their flight paths are quite controlled.

      Youtube link

      1. Duffy Moon

        I see plenty of helicopters flying overhead and I'm at least a mile from the Thames.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Because they have a ditch path (the thames) and can autorotate in the event of engine failure.

        Their flight paths are quite controlled."

        Assuming they have a gentle, benign failure that is merely a loss of engine power, rather than a loss of control systems, a rotor imbalance, a failure of a hub, rotor hinge, or transmission, loss of a small part of a rotor (the rotor will come apart in seconds), a pilot medical emergency, a tail rotor failure, and so on.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Like the King Power Stadium crash didn't then.

        That one was a very luck escape for the crowd. The pilot must have been good.

    3. Cragganmore

      Only twin-engine are allowed over London... bit safer apparently.

      1. Chris Parsons

        A light twin will get you to the crash quicker.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all very convenient

    Isn't it rather a coincidence that they really could do with a diversion to take people's minds off what the government are currently doing and they legislation is just waiting on the wings.

    Sounds like the police or other authorities were the ones responsible for the airport fiasco and it's simply being used to bring in further controls.

    A local man near my location was already fined under civil aviation authority rules as far back as 2015/2016, so further laws are not needed, I don't know why they didn't just bring out some police snipers to have some target practice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I subscribe...

      To the law of convenience. That you don't need to make these events happen, that is where crazy conspiracy theorists lurk. However, enough events happen by themselves, that you can leverage them.

      I mean, most kids do this to their parents. The kid does not need to cause a need to go to the shops and buy sweets, they just wait till the toilet paper/milk/bread runs out, then gets a couple of naughty sweets on the side with the change when out for the errand.

      Same here. If someone reports or does something, then just use it as an excuse to do what you want to do!

  14. SonofRojBlake

    "powers"

    "Police will also have the power to order drone pilots to land their craft on request and hand over information such as names, addresses, insurance details and copies of licences"

    Whoopy doo. Meaningless without the power to find the pilot in the first place.

    I fly a paraglider, so I read the AirProx reports fairly regularly. Drone encounters are getting more and more frequent, and every single airprox report contains the line "The drone pilot was not traced", or similar. Almost all the cases I've heard of drone operators actually being traced (and there are very few) are ones where the idiot put the video on Youtube or similar. A minimum amount of discretion and it's simply impossible to find these people, so blustering about what you're going to do with them when you do is so much hot air.

    It gets worse. Right now, the drones of concern (the ones that exist, that is...) are flown line-of-sight or FPV for shits-n-giggles by pranksters. In principle at least, a lucky cop could nab one of these idiots by catching them in the act or possibly following the drone back to the owner. However, if you really wanted to screw up an airport, it would be trivial to build a relatively cheap autonomous drone that you have no intention of retrieving, and simply launch it from the back of a van, have it go loiter visibly over the middle of the runway at the airport for ten or twenty minutes, then either land at a different, pre-arranged spot or for even less risk simply ditch itself in a nearby lake/pond/river. Chances of plod tracing the pilot when there is no pilot? And when the drone isn't heading back to the launch point and the builder/launcher has no intention to retrieve it? Nil.

    If this is a power-grab by police, it's had the (presumably unintended) side-effect of demonstrating that it's possible to completely paralyse an airport for days for fairly little cost, zero need for risky things like explosives or guns, zero risk of injury and negligible risk of capture. Well done lads.

  15. tiggity Silver badge

    not even a drone needed.

    Wait for correct winds (blowing in direction of your target)

    Big helium filled balloon, with (very) long string, attached to end of string is cardboard mockup drone - light enough that balloon will lift it

    Set off balloon, which will go up in air, long string uncoils, finally you can let go of mock drone

    Mock drone will be visible whilst supporting balloon far higher so good chance of it not being spotted (sensible colour choices on balloon may help) and mock drone assumed to be a real drone.

  16. Daveinthesticks

    Just ban drones altogether?

    Drones should be banned altogether unless the user has a pilots licence. This would cut out those wanting to mess up the lives of so many people and endanger commercial aircraft to a great degree. Allowing any senseless idiot to own a huge lump of materials that could down a commercial airliner is a bit like giving a them an AK47 and saying 'Go and have lots of fun with this'.

    If we limit the use of drones to those having a pilots licence it would be quite easy to find the perpetrator of any 'denial of service' attacks on airports. Using a drone to close an airport should be classed as a terrorist offence, in my opinion that is exactly what it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just ban drones altogether?

      Good idea. We could probably use a similar ban on guns and explosives and sort out terrorism while we are at it. And knives, ban knives. You could limit their sale, ownership and use to licenced chefs and surgeons. Everyone else could just use spoons and forks. And cars - you have to ban cars - large lumps of metal that directly kill 1700 people and injure hundreds of thousands of people in the UK every year.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Just ban [knives]...

        That worked for China IIRC... oh wait.

    2. Andytug

      Re: Just ban drones altogether?

      No, what's needed is for people to stop being arseholes to each other and apply some common sense, unfortunately the ability to teach that is gradually being lost in favour of stupid laws that can't be enforced anyway. Plus to do such needs a generation to sort and no politician is interested in anything that goes on longer than their own potential term of office,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just ban drones altogether?

        We agreed at work that 'get people to stop being arseholes' was right up there on our to do list after we sort out war, poverty, famine and hunger.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just ban drones altogether?

      So what is the difference between legally owning a drone to do illegal things with and illegally owning drones, to begin with?

      Apart from an illegal operator having no paperwork to track, that is?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just ban drones altogether?

      "Drones should be banned altogether unless the user has a pilots licence. This would cut out those wanting to mess up the lives of so many people and endanger commercial aircraft to a great degree. "

      ... because no one wanting to fly a drone near an airliner in restricted airspace would *ever* break the law???

      ... because drones have brought down so many airliners in the past???

      ... because no aircraft has ever survived striking a small civilian drone???

      ... because useful new technology should be arbitrarily banned because someone doesn't think it's justified???

      ... because the answer to any issue is more laws, fines, and restrictions???

      ... because anything that you don't use or understand is bad???

      ... because anything you feel is a danger is a danger, regardless of actual evidence, facts, and statistical history???

      Fail, thoroughly and repeatedly.

  17. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    Apparently some of the drone sightings could have been police drones-

    https://www.continentaltelegraph.com/your-tax-money-at-work/facepalm-police-admit-gatwick-drones-could-have-been-police-surveillance-drones/

    Isnt it wonderful to think all problems can be solved by a new law, even when the law cant be enforced.

    1. Cragganmore

      Re: Ha

      The fuzz did back-track on that statement (maybe under heavy leaning from Earl Grayling). Difficult to see how you could get to 93 witness statements from employees within the airport if it was all BS.

      Equally - it's difficult to see how you could defend the entire approach/take-off air-space (not just the airport perimeter) in a reliable way in day/night/rain/fog etc. As many have said on here, it is reasonably easy for a determined technically competent person to make their own quad-copter with a 30 min battery life, with an autonomous GPS system that would take-off, route over an airfield approach, and then head back to a pre-determined location. No radio-traffic or comms involved - so nothing to detect or block/jam.

      Assuming a radar-based detection system (mitigates rain/fog etc) could detect, then the challenge is applying kinetic energy to disable the device. Again assuming you don't care where it lands/crashes! Directed energy weapons might seem an obvious choice but not that clever with aircraft in the vicinity.

      The Russians apparently are considering deploying their own counter-drones - presumably directed onto target by a separate detection/tracking system. But that would still mean significant disruption and diverted flights whilst drone-dog-fight takes place in the skies. And it wouldn't appear certain that it would take out another drone 100% of the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ha

        Having 'seen' something that wasn't there I don't think it would be hard at all. I 'saw' a big cat (Beast of Bodmin style). It was 100% a big cat, slinking through a field about 250 metres from a first floor office window in clear daylight. I called a friend over and said 'Is that a lion or something?' He agreed and we watched for about 2 or 3 minutes in amazement, pretty much cashing the News of the World cheque in advance.

        3rd friend then comes into the office with his bird-watching binoculars - and watched the Great Dane happily bound back to it's owner, stick in mouth. The thing was the moment we knew it was a dog, it obviously was a dog, and impossible we ever saw it as a big cat.

        I wonder how many of the witnesses were air traffic controllers - you know those people who hang out in towers in the middle of airfields and have binoculars on their desk?

        1. Cragganmore

          Re: Ha

          If it looks like Scooby Do = probably a Great Dane.

          If it looks like Simba = probably a big cat.

          Hope that helps?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ha

            Thank you, it does. Obviously if i had spotted the VW van and the caretaker who was pretending to be a ghost it would have been clear from the start. But seriously - as I understand human vision we don't actually 'see' as much as we think we do - the brain makes up a picture from sparse visual cues.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ha

          Trues story.

          Work colleague in van: "Hey, is that a 3 legged tiger just walking into the customers house."

          Me [Looks up, expecting it to be a bad joke]: "Yep, nice spot."

          It was a 3 legged Savannah cat, that while not the size of a tiger, did match the description they gave!

      2. Radio Wales
        Happy

        Re: Re: Ha

        >> And it wouldn't appear certain that it would take out another drone 100% of the time.

        What about tiny, tiny anti-drone missiles? Always assuming the rogue drones are not carrying Anti-drone missiles-missiles as a state-of-the-art defence?

        Miniaturising warfare could save us lots of pounds and keep people out of it altogether.

      3. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Cost / result analyses.

        You can. We can detect movement smaller than the hair's breadth of an electron ( ;) ), but it's all a costs vs needs problem. Is it worth the cost and investment of putting up all the sensors or staff.

      4. Robert 22

        Re: Ha

        There are numerous precedents for imaginary events. Consider the Second Gulf of Tonkin Incident, a response to an imaginary attack:

        "Over the next three hours, the two ships repeatedly maneuvered at high speeds to evade perceived enemy boat attacks. The destroyers reported automatic-weapons fire; more than 20 torpedo attacks; sightings of torpedo wakes, enemy cockpit lights, and searchlight illumination; and numerous radar and surface contacts. By the time the destroyers broke off their "counterattack," they had fired 249 5-inch shells, 123 3-inch shells, and four or five depth charges."

        https://www.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/2008-02/truth-about-tonkin

        It wouldn't take much for people to imagine a drone incursion - perhaps as little as a bird or escaped birthday balloon.

      5. nijam

        Re: Ha

        > Difficult to see how you could get to 93 witness statements from employees within the airport if it was all BS

        Well, numerous people in various occupations related to air transport have been making largely-unsubstantiated, and occasionally-impossible, reports of drones for years.

  18. Tridac

    How about all drones above a defined size have a transponder for identification, just like rest of the world of aviation.. Standard avionics tech and could be made lightweight, cheap and mass produced in China, whatever. Using current standard protocols, could be seen on the screen in airports. Of course, that wouldn't stop the bad guys though...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yay - although current transponders way at least 0.5 kg, and cost over £1500, so there's a fair way to go before 'light' or 'cheap' so we can have another 'no effect on bad guys' action that clutters radar screens. It does, of course, mean we can no close an airport by turning on a transponder that says there is a drone in the wrong place, without the inconvenience of actually putting a drone there.

    2. SonofRojBlake

      "How about all drones above a defined size have a transponder for identification, just like rest of the world of aviation"

      Nope. I flew from Bradwell in Derbyshire to southeast of Grantham in Lincolinshire, a distance of over sixty miles, twice in 2015. I wasn't carrying a transponder. I guy I know flew from the Elan valley in Wales to Scarborough - over 180 miles - last year. It took him a little over eight and a half hours, and he went up to 7000 feet up. He wasn't carrying a transponder. How do you account for this?

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