Drones deliberately taunting Gatwick Airport, shutting it down for nearly 24 hours so far

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/20/drones-deliberately-taunting-g.html

This is why we can’t have nice things


This WILL result in much more draconian drone regulations - however effective or ineffective they will be. Some will certainly be ‘drone security theatre’. The ratchet only goes one way.


tl;dr: Don’t be an asshole.

They’ve violated that in a big way.


If only there were some device that used a small explosive charge to propel a few dozen metal pellets up into the air - that could be used to destroy the drone(s) and GET BACK TO BUSINESS.


what @Von_Skipppy said.
I am quite surprised they haven’t used destructive means to remove the problem yet.


I am wondering if they are waiting to try to get the equipment in to track down the person controlling it… although after an hour or so, I’d think getting some people out there with shotguns would be the right answer too…


I have no idea of the effective range of a shotgun, but I suspect the police are struggling to get that close. They have said they’re unwilling to fire rifles in essentially a residential area.


I really want a to get a drone for landscapes (away from people and planes) but assholes like this will just kill it entirely.

Maybe not appropriate to post in the context of the OP but it did remind me of this video. :rofl:

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so this is guaranteed prison time sooner or later right?

basically like robbing a bank but without any profit, just piles of stupid

Drone flyer here. It seems strange that the police can’t find the operator or base for the aircraft, given that the airspace is otherwise clear, and they are able to operate both in the air and on the ground. They just need to keep an eye on the drones when they land to recharge, then grab the operators.


I just… this is almost purposeful ineptitude to justify something that they otherwise couldn’t justify. Either that, or there is a lot more to this than they are saying…

There are devices on the market that can drop a drone from thousands of feet away without destroying it, for forensic evidence; as well as devices used to track the signal back to the transmitter. And if it is a military grade larger drone… they have equipment to deal with that, too.

I can’t believe that a major international airport in a first world country would be allowed to shut down for a day or two because of a drone, unless there is one heck of an ulterior motive by the people who are doing the shutting down.


28 minutes ago

The Army has deployed “specialist equipment” to Gatwick Airport as the travel chaos caused by drone activity shows no sign of abating.


It’s especially curious given that bird detection and control around airports is a more or less ubiquitous thing(at least at ones large enough for stranded passengers, maybe not at the local cropduster’s dirt strip).

Birds have behavioral triggers that drones don’t, so I wouldn’t expect the anti-bird mechanisms that just do bulk deterrence by looking predatory to do the job; but with how much delays can cost an operator and a bird can cost a jet engine I would have assumed that having someone to call when a bird doesn’t get the message wouldn’t be all that uncommon.

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It has occurred to me previously that CCTV could be used as an additional surveillance option for air traffic control, particularly in terminal areas. Current options are:

Primary Radar
Secondary Radar
Wide area multilateration

With modern image processing software it should be possible to use video to track aircraft around an airfield. You would obviously use multiple cameras, and use observed altitude and azimuth to calculate position in three dimensions.

One advantage is that you can observe objects which are hard to detect with primary radar. Obviously the idea depends on ambient or emitted light, which is a limitation.

I also wonder if more information could be extracted from existing approach and surface movement primary radars. It is possible the drones are generating plots which are being filtered out later in the processing chain.

Given how easy this is to do, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Maybe after this, it will…

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Fly a drone in airport space, easy on any drone without geofencing.

Keep it there for longer than 30 minutes, swap it out with another drone while it gets a battery change, and not get caught, should be difficult.

I gather that the method is to keep them flying until the airport shuts down, land the drones, and bring them back when the airport is about to reopen. (A scanner on the tower frequency would tell them that.)


It would be difficult to do at some of our airports (Melbourne and Avalon for example) because they are surrounded by open ground and large, professional businesses. But at Essendon it would be much easier because it has houses on three sides, so only a door to door search would find the aircraft.

From what I have read about this incident, Gatwick is more like Essendon. Its too cluttered to ensure safety for both residents and aircraft.


Seems like one could cause a lot of chaos even by being pretty haphazard about it - flying a drone around the airport, putting it in a vehicle and re-launching it from somewhere else every half-hour or so (the drone itself wouldn’t have to fly for the full 30 minutes)… add just another person doing the same, and it would be an intractable mess for the airport.

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I shall now market my own drone product and call it “The Drone-Hating Hillbilly”.

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