Drone grounds flights at Dubai Airport

Air traffic was suspended for 30 minutes due to suspected drone activity over the airport

Dubai international airport paused all traffic activity because of unauthorised drone activity at the airport between 10.13 and 10.45 am local time on Friday.

One of the world’s busiest airports suffered severe disruption caused by the incident which left thousands of people stranded. Several planes were stuck taxiing on the runway.

“Dubai airport confirms that operations at Dubai international are back to normal after less than 30 minutes of delay due to unauthorised drone activity,” tweeted the Government of Dubai Media Office.

No drones allowed — richardjohnson / Shutterstock Drone grounds flights at Dubai Airport
No drones allowed — richardjohnson / Shutterstock

“Authorities warned that flying drones without obtaining permission is subject to legal liability as per UAE laws.”

Since then, service has resumed to normal.

In the United Arab Emirates, drone owners are required to register with the General Civil Aviation Authority. It is also forbidden to put cameras and lasers on drones and fly them in certain areas.

Drones have become a major issue for the aviation industry

Drones at Gatwick caused the most disruption since the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull paralysed operations across Europe — RichHiggins / Shutterstock Drone grounds flights at Dubai Airport
Drones at Gatwick caused the most disruption since the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull paralysed operations across Europe — RichHiggins / Shutterstock

Dubai airport — the base of long-haul airline Emirates — welcomed more than 90 million passengers in 2018 alone. While it is the first time unauthorised drone activity has shut down its operation, similar incidents at other airports recently affected flights to the United Arab Emirates hub.

Drones have become a major issue for the aviation industry. In the last two months, two major European airports in the UK reported drone incidents as well.

In the run-up to Christmas last year, hundreds of flights were cancelled at Gatwick airport near London. The incident affected around 140,000 passengers and 1,000 flights. The drone sightings near Gatwick caused the biggest airport disruption since 2010 when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland shut down the airport.

Similarly, in January a drone sighting near Heathrow led up to an emergency one-hour halt of flights taking off.

Gatwick and Heathrow airports have since invested millions of pounds in anti-drone technology.