“Shortly after 17:00hrs [yesterday 8th Jan] we received reports of a sighting of a drone at Heathrow airport. As part of our established response plans to such an incident, officers were swiftly deployed across the airport and we continue to work closely with colleagues from Heathrow Airport Limited,” said Commander Stuart Cundy.
“As a precaution, departures were stopped at the airport whilst initial enquiries were made. Once it was established it was safe to do so, departures were resumed just after 18:00hrs and the airport is now fully operational.
“Our priority is to ensure that there is no ongoing threat to the safety of those at the airport and identify those responsible for this dangerous act.
“Police officers were amongst those who saw the drone and a full criminal investigation has been launched. We are carrying out extensive searches around the Heathrow area to identify any people who may be responsible for the operation of the drone.
“I want to be clear that the illegal operation of drones at an airfield is extremely dangerous. Under the Aviation Security Act it is an offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft, anyone found guilty of this offence could face a life sentence.
“We are deploying significant resources – both in terms of officers and equipment – to monitor the airspace around Heathrow and to quickly detect and disrupt any illegal drone activity; some of which are as a result of learning from the incidents at Gatwick.
“Following today’s [8th Jan] sighting, military assistance has been implemented to support us. However, we will not be discussing in any further detail the range of tactics available to us as this would only serve to potentially undermine their effectiveness.
“We are determined to identify anyone who may have been involved in today’s incident and I would urge anybody who may have information that could assist our investigation to call 101 quoting Heathrow drone incident.
“Similarly, if you see anyone acting suspiciously, including anybody operating a drone or model aircraft in the area around Heathrow, or other airports, then dial 999 immediately.”
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