Gatwick passengers' fury as cops can't shoot down drone amid fears of stray bullets

Flyers have been left stranded for more than 32 hours as an elite force of Army specialists, police snipers and MoD spooks hunt the drones in a humiliating game of cat-and-mouse.

Despite the search entering its third day, Sussex Police are still vague about whether rifles will be used to blast the drones out of the sky.

Initially officers said they could not shoot the remote-controlled craft down for fear of stray bullets –before appearing to U-turn by saying today they would do “whatever it takes”.

This morning they said “tactical options” were now being considered as Det Ch Supt Jason Tingley said the force would "do what we can to take that drone out of the sky".

The technique used to tackle the drones remains unclear with guns, radio waves or even eagles suggested.

But passengers and their loved ones raged online as they face another day of travel hell in one of the most serious security breaches in aviation history.

One tweeter wrote: “If the police are worried about stray bullets, are they not able to use rubber bullets as an alternative?”

Another said: “Brother can’t land in Gatwick cause for three days they can’t shoot down a drone and now we’re stuck at Stansted on a plane. But sure you’ll manage well after Brexit."

Norwegian author JH Lillevik posted: “My friend Cheri is stuck at Gatwick and can't get back to her son. Could anyone please just find that drone and shoot it down? I'll name a character in my next book after you.”

On tweeter wrote: “Don't really get why the police can't shoot down the drones with rubber bullets? #Gatwick #DroneGate”

Another said wrote: “For goodness sake Gatwick, thousands of pheasants are killed every day with shot guns.

"No issues with stray bullets and will destroy a drone instantly. What a health and safety cop out.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said “new technologies” will be used to “take action” against the drones.




He explained that due to the “unprecedented” nature of the situation – cops could not simply shoot the drones out of the sky.

Mr Grayling told BBC Radio 4 Today: "There is a experience recently elsewhere in the world of literally thousands of machine gun bullets being used to try and bring down the drone, failing to do so and of course you can't just fire weapons haphazardly in what is a built up area around the airport.

Gatwick, Britain’s second busiest airport, has now partially reopened with a “limited number of planes” departing, a spokesman said.

British Airways told customers the “majority of flights” will be running from Gatwick today.

But, travel chaos is set to continue with 155 cancelled flights today alone and a further 682 under threat.

How could officials take down a drone?


Firearms officers were seen patrolling the perimeters of Gatwick's runways yesterday but police have ruled out shooting down drones because of the risk of stray bullets.

However, a number of companies have produced shoulder-mounted guns which can be used to fire nets at drones – preventing their blades from rotating and causing them to fall from the sky.


Military technology can be used to shoot down drones from several miles away.

Boeing has developed a high-energy beam which can locate and disable drones in a matter of seconds.

A similar system was delivered to the Ministry of Defence earlier this year but it is not known if it is ready for use.

Radiowave 'fence'

Radiowaves can be used to prevent a drone flying within a certain area.

The transmitters disrupt signals between the pilot and the drone forcing it to land or travel back to where it took off.

The technology has been used at jails in Guernsey to prevent illegal shipments being flown over prison walls.

Trained eagles

A less technologically-advanced method to potentially bring down the drones are trained eagles.

Dutch police experimented with trained birds and found they were capable of tackling the flying machines.

However, the birds were never used in a real-life setting due to safety fears

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