Dubai Airport Latest to be Disrupted by Drones

Photo of airport flight schedules courtesy of Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

In what has become an all-too-common occurrence, Dubai International Airport stopped flights for a half hour Friday morning following “unauthorized drone activity,” according to several published reports.

It’s just the latest in a series of airport disruptions caused by drones. The world’s third-busiest airport temporarily stopped operations for about 30 minutes due to “unauthorized drone activity,” according to a tweet from the Dubai Media Office, one of the first sources to break the news today.

Similar incidents recently took place at London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports. The troubling scenarios were addressed last month by Inside Unmanned Systems columnist James Poss, Maj Gen (RET). In his article “Wake Up Call: Gatwick” Poss stated:Make no mistake: even if the Gatwick drone pilot or pilots turn out to be clueless remote pilot(s) versus a criminal one, this will happen again. There will be copycats.”

Sadly, shortly after the article was published came reports of more rogue drones, including a disruption at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport.

On Friday, incoming flights were allowed to land during the Dubai International Airport disruption, according to the The New York Times. The flight stoppage occurred between 10:15 am and 10:45 am local time, before operations reportedly returned back to normal.

“Dubai Airports has worked closely with the appropriate authorities to ensure that the safety of airport operations is maintained at all times and to minimize any inconvenience to our customers,” the airport said.

As in the U.S., Dubai’s laws clearly prohibit the flying of drones in “near, around and over airports.” Today, the country’s media office reiterated the legal implications of operating a drone without first obtaining a license.

Related Reading: “Busy UK Airport Reopens After “Drone Mayhem” Disrupted Service”

The incident at London’s Gatwick Airport in December, which wreaked havoc on holiday travelers and airport workers as drones disrupted pre-Christmas flights for 33 hours, reportedly caused about $64.5 million in losses.

With this drone activity becoming an increasing worry for airport administrators, aviation authorities are hard at work attempting ways to prevent people from flying drones near airports. One report stated Gatwick is planning a drone drill to be better prepared for future incidents, and we can expect other airports to follow suit.