A passenger plane could be brought down by a swarm of drones in a horror terror attack, MPs have been told
By Tim Hanlon
Daily Star Online — 11 June 2019
The Commons Defence Committee was given the shocking reality as they looked into ways to boost safety amid fears over the "malevolent use of drones". MPs grilled drones experts about rules that could be put in place to raise safety. Major disruption was caused last December at Gatwick Airport that was closed for 33 hours. Around 1,000 flights had to be cancelled or delayed after drones were spotted. Environmental group Extinction Rebellion has said it will bring Heathrow Airport to a standstill by drones as they protest against its expansion.
Julian Lewis, who heads the Defence Committee, asked what was to stop terrorists using drones to cause a "nightmare scenario". He said:
"We live in an age where airliners have been used as guided missiles against buildings and road vehicles have been used to mow down pedestrians.
"Do you see any way of preventing a small and determined group of people who want to use drones to cause economic chaos or even worse to bring down airliners on crowded, inhabited regions?
"Is there anything in these regulations that will inhibit their ability to do so?"
He warned of
"a group of terrorists who get together and decide they are going to mount an attack to bring down a low-flying aircraft, perhaps approaching or leaving a major airport on a residential area."
Mr Lewis continued:
"We are talking about numbers of victims that would run into possibly the thousands. Is there anything for example to stop people manufacturing in their garages unregistered drones that would be capable if deliberately used for the purpose, either singularly or in a swarm, of bringing down an airliner?"
Civil Aviation Authority policy chief Tim Johnson admitted that the rules currently in place are focused on "aviation safety" but not including a deliberate attacks. He added:
"Ultimately all the regulatory framework can do and the law can do and the way in which we enforce it is focused on those who act lawfully."
Britain's estimated 170,000 drone users will have to pay £16 to register themselves as pilots under plans to regulate the industry. Richard Parker, of Altitude Angel drone services said:
"The way the registration system is designed, you can only really understand who is at fault once you have recovered the drone. In the most tragic scenarios that would mean once a terrorist has detonated the vehicle."