Rogue drone brings Dubai airport to a halt for over an hour, 22 flights diverted

  • Agencies, Dubai
  • Updated: Jun 12, 2016 15:04 IST
Emirates Airlines aircrafts are seen at Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates May 10, 2016. Air traffic at the airport was disrupted for over an hour on June 11, 2016 due to unauthorised drone activity. (Reuters File Photo)

A rogue drone disrupted air traffic at Dubai international airport for more than an hour on Saturday, said the operator of one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs.

“DXB airspace was closed due to unauthorised UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) activity for 69 minutes resulting in a number of diversions,” Dubai Airports said in a statement on its Twitter account, using its code.

“Airspace reopened at 12:45 (0845 GMT)” on Saturday, it added.

It was the second such incident in 18 months, according to media reports in the United Arab Emirates.

Twenty-two flights were diverted from the world’s busiest airport for international travel. Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths said thousands of passengers suffered disruption to their journeys.

Sixteen of the diverted flights went to Dubai World Central, Dubai’s other main airport, spokesperson said. Dubai, a trade, tourism and investment hub for the Gulf region, is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

“This is a very serious incident and we obviously take the safety of our customers and our staff extremely seriously,” Griffiths told Dubai’s Dubaieye 103.8 radio.

“As you can imagine, this is the busiest international airport in the world and there was major inconvenience to thousands of passengers ...”

Michael Rudolph, head of aviation regulation and safety at the Dubai civil aviation authority (DCAA), had said the first drone incident on January 23 last year may have cost Dubai close to $69 million.

One million dollars per minute - that’s what it cost the economy of Dubai”, he had said when the airspace above the airport was shut for 55 minutes.

The flying of drones is prohibited within 5km of airports, helipads, landing areas or manned aircraft in the UAE.

Around the world the use of civil drones, whether for commercial purposes or just as a leisure activity, is rising. That popularity has led to increasing reports of near-misses with commercial aircraft, such as when a Lufthansa plane was approaching Warsaw airport last month.

Aviation concerns focus on smaller drones, operated like model planes and flown for recreation, because their users are often not familiar with the rules of the air.

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