London's Heathrow Airport briefly halts flights after 'drone sighting'

Key Points
  • Flights into Europe's busiest airport were delayed after reports of a drone sighting.
  • Disruption comes less than a month after reports of drone sightings crippled London Gatwick.
An airliner comes in to land at Heathrow Airport, London.
Getty Images

London's Heathrow Airport briefly halted departures Tuesday after a report of a drone sighting, less than a month after a similar event crippled operations at another major U.K. airport.

London's Metropolitan Police said it received reports of a drone sighting "in the vicinity of Heathrow airport" shortly after 5 p.m. local time. The airport said it resumed flights in the early evening after grounding planes following the report.

"We continue to work closely with the Met Police to respond to reports of drones at Heathrow," a spokesperson for the airport said in a statement. "Based on standard operating procedures, working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, we have resumed departures out of Heathrow following a short suspension. We continue to monitor this situation and apologise to any passengers that were affected by this disruption."

The incident shows how quickly even a report of a sighted drone can disrupt air travel. Officials are struggling with how to keep drones away from aircraft as the devices become more popular with consumers and businesses.

The suspension of departures at Heathrow came less than a month after reports of drone sightings halted air travel at London Gatwick Airport, stranding thousands of travelers during a peak holiday travel period.

Heathrow is Europe's busiest airport and serves an average of more than 213,000 passengers a day.