New drone risk assessment to be carried out after UK disruption

Protocols are in place for dealing with illegal drone activity

New drone risk assessment to be carried out after UK disruption

A drone is pictured in the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) in 2015 | Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Government has said a fresh, detailed risk assessment is to be carried out into the illegal operation of drones.

This followed a meeting of the National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group on Thursday afternoon.

The meeting was called to advise Transport Minister Shane Ross on recent incidents in the UK.

Flights were affected at London's Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, after a reported drone sighting.

All departures were stopped for a time as a precautionary measure while an investigation was carried out.

While there were days of flight disruption just before Christmas at neighbouring Gatwick Airport, after a drone was repeatedly flown near the runway.

The group was chaired by the Department of Transport and involved the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), the State airports, Irish airlines, the Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs, An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: "The group... discussed preparedness at Irish airports in the event of an illegal infringement into restricted airspace of a drone, including current arrangements and on-going developments at the EU level."

File photo

"The recent reported events in the UK have understandably caused some public concern.

"The minister has been reassured that there are already strong regulatory provisions in place in Ireland, which control and restrict the use of drones.

"These include an exclusion zone of five kilometres around airports, which is something the UK authorities are now moving to.

"There are also operational protocols in place for dealing with illegal drone activity at the airports, which serve to coordinate the response of the airport authority, air traffic control and An Garda Síochána."

The group also advised Minister Ross about the detailed risk assessment, which is to be carried out in the coming weeks.

The department added that it would be "inappropriate" to provide specific information on the protocols, "as this would risk compromising the effectiveness of any response."