Following recent disruption at Gatwick and several other airports around the world, Martin Needham considers the threat posed by small, unmanned air systems to commercial aviation.

Dubai International Airport briefly closed during the morning of February 15.
More than 140,000 passengers were affected by the disruption at Gatwick between December 19-21.

It is just days before Christmas at the UK’s second busiest airport. Hundreds of passengers are stranded, sleeping on the floors of its terminals. More than a thousand flights have been cancelled as the chaos enters its 29th hour. Overhead, the faint, high-pitched whine of a drone cuts through the crisp, cold air. One could be forgiven for thinking that the writers of the Die Hard series are running out of ideas, but the films’ hero John McClane is nowhere to be found, not even in the vents.

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