MPs have launched an investigation into the risk of drone usage to “national security and public safety” after one caused major disruption at Gatwick Airport at the end of last year.
The Commons’ science and technology select committee is looking at the ethical and safety problems created by the growing use of civilian drones across the UK.
Between December 19 and 21, the London transport hub was repeatedly forced to close due to reported drone sightings, causing mass disruption to passengers, with about 1,000 flights affected.
The army began assisting police efforts after the first day of chaos, with the airport returning to normal on the morning of December 21.
A drone was spotted near Heathrow Airport January 8, causing managers to trigger emergency warnings, but no flights were affected and the device did not return.
The incident at Gatwick triggered international concern, with several major international travel hubs calling for advice and information from British authorities following the disruption.
Committee chair Norman Lamb said drones offer a “range of opportunities” for British industries, but added “the increased usage with a lack of effective regulation also brings an unspecified amount of potential risks to both national security and public safety”.
The Lib Dem MP highlighted the “near misses” at Gatwick and Heathrow as reasons why the government needed to take action.
The committee hopes to use the evidence it gathers to submit a ‘Drones Bill’ to government later this year.