Gatwick Airport forced to close and planes diverted after suspected drone spotted near runway on Sunday

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Gatwick Airport was forced to close and planes diverted after a suspected drone was spotted near the runway on Sunday.

Gatwick Airport was forced to close for nearly an hour and as many as 12 planes had to be diverted after a suspected drone was spotted near the runway on Sunday afternoon (May 14). The busy airport was temporarily shut after the flying object was seen near the airfield in West Sussex.

Operations were disrupted for around 50 minutes from around 1.45pm and 12 jets were diverted to other airports. Flights were temporarily suspended, but resumed when the airfield reopened at 2.35pm after investigations were carried out.

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Some 12 inbound aircraft were diverted, but they returned to Gatwick later that day. A spokesperson for Gatwick said: "Passenger safety is the airport’s absolute priority and - following established procedures.

“Operations at London Gatwick were suspended temporarily at 1.44pm, while investigations into the sighting of a suspected drone close to the airfield took place. These investigations have now been completed and the airfield reopened at 2.35pm."

This was not the first time the airport has had a similar drone attack. In December 2018, Gatwick was shut for more than a day after repeated drone sightings caused chaos for travellers just before Christmas.

At the time, police described the drone flying a "deliberate act of disruption", but did not classify it as terrorism. Around 110,000 passengers and 760 flights were affected, but no suspects were ever prosecuted over the drone flights.

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