Drone sightings at Heathrow, Gatwick could lead to tougher laws

The UK government may also seek new technology to detect drones.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

Heathrow Airport stopped departures following a drone sighting. 

Kent German/CNET

The British government may consider stricter laws on drone use after flights were disrupted at two of the country's largest airports.

David Lidington, British Prime Minister Theresa May's de-facto deputy, said the government will look for ways to strengthen drone laws after recent incidents at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, according to a report.

"Clearly, the government is looking at the law to see whether there are ways in which it could be strengthened," the Cabinet Office Minister said in an interview with ITV, according to Reuters. 

London's Heathrow Airport halted departures for about an hour on Tuesday after a drone was reportedly seen near its runways. 

"As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate," Heathrow Airport said in a tweet. "We apologize to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause."

Officers based at Heathrow are investigating the sighting. As of Tuesday evening, flights at Heathrow, the second busiest airport for international travelers in the world, were operating normally.

This isn't the first time a drone sighting has disrupted airport departures. In December, London's Gatwick Airport shut down for 33 hours after  drones  were spotted near the airport, affecting 120,000 passengers. The drone operator wasn't caught.

Lidington also reportedly said airports should invest more in technology to detect and stop drones that could impact flights.

First published on Jan. 8, 11:05 a.m. PT.
Update, Jan. 9, 10:53 a.m. PT: Adds that Heathrow has resumed flights and comment from David Lidington.