Illegal drone activity caused major disruptions at Dublin Airport over the last two weeks; a number of flights were diverted to Shannon, Belfast, and Manchester on four separate occasions. The costs of the delays are said to be well over one million euro.
All operations were paused on January 24th and February 3rd, 4th, and 6th. The illegal drone activity paused all operations at the airport for up to 45 minutes on occasions, Dublin Airport labelled the behaviour as “reckless & irresponsible”.
A man in his 50s has been charged with operating a drone in a ‘critical area’ on January 24th when two flights were diverted. The man was charged under the Air Navigation and Transport Act with unlawfully and intentionally interfering with operations at Dublin Airport in Court last Thursday.
The man was released on bail while waiting for his next court appearance in April, his passport was revoked and he must sign on weekly to a local Garda station. The man was charged two days after Dublin Airport requested that harsher sentences be placed on people who illegally fly drones in Ireland.
CEO of the airport’s operator (DAA), Kenny Jacobs said Ireland needs to introduce “draconian sentencing” for illegal drone activity and a defence system that can disable them. Similar devices have been installed and used in Gatwick Airport in England and other European countries.
However, a new plan that will crack down on illegal drone activity won’t be in place until 2025. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), published a set of guidelines in 2021 for a structured approach to tackling unauthorised drone activity.
The guidelines said the illegal use of drones “pose a collision hazard when an aircraft is flying en-route” and said disruptions due to drones could lead to “secondary risks, such as fuel shortages, airspace capacity saturation and an increased workload of air traffic controllers and pilots.”
Aer Lingus and Ryanair said that the situation was unacceptable and said that the safety plan needs to be brought into force immediately. Ryanair also called on Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, to take action on illegal drone activity.
An Aer Lingus spokesperson said, “The Plan for Aviation Safety which contains actions to address the risks of drone infringements, and which has already been published, must be progressed as a matter of urgency,
“The severe disruption imposed on passengers, airlines and other stakeholders is unacceptable and measures to address the drone issue must be now expedited in order to put a halt to this disruption,” they added.
Independent.ie reported last week that the disruptions cost the Airport up to one million euro in additional fuel costs and staff.
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