Drone sighting halts departures at Heathrow Airport in London

Gatwick airport passengers

The Metropolitan Police said they received reports of a drone sighting near Heathrow at about 17:05 GMT.

We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety.

'As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate.

ITV reporter Sarah Rodgers was among those now grounded at Heathrow. "We apologies to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause".

In a separate consultation previous year, most respondents rejected the idea of concentrating more planes over the same area and asked the airport to vary flight paths, which is likely to affect thousands more homes.

The military was on a standstill, ready to deploy the same equipment used at Gatwick last month, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said.

Planes could come in to land on both runways at the same time during busy periods, Heathrow has proposed, to help maximise its capacity ahead of expansion.

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Heathrow and Gatwick responded by ordering military-grade anti-drone defences worth "several million pounds".

One frustrated passenger wrote on Twitter: "Stuck onboard a plane in runway at #Heathrow. Would seem that I should expect 2-3 days wait?"

And a fourth said: "Sitting on The runway at London's #Heathrow Airport has been closed due to drone activity".

BBC producer Kathy Long, speaking from a plane waiting to depart at Heathrow, confirmed passengers were told they won't be departing in the near future.

Student Gabriella Linning, 20, said she is on a grounded flight to Newcastle, told MailOnline the pilot of her plane said passengers should let staff know if they wish to disembark.

Gatwick closed on the evening of December 19 and for much of the day on both December 20 and 21.

In the aftermath of the Gatwick incident it was announced that new measures would be brought into place regarding drone exclusion areas around airports, as well as competency tests for people owning drones over a certain size. Exclusion zones are now one kilometre around airports and will be extended to five kilometres.

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