Published On: Thu, Sep 29th, 2016

Unmanned drone blamed for Dubai International Airport closing

An unmanned drone is being blamed for the closure of the Dubai International Airport for nearly half an hour on Wednesday morning, according to airport officials.

In a statement, a Dubai Airports spokesperson noted that “airspace around Dubai International was closed from 0808 hours to 0835 hours this morning due to unauthorised drone activity resulting in a number of delays at the airport”.

The spokesperson said the arrival operations resumed at 8.35am and departures at 8.40am with some restrictions. Full operations resumed at 9.07am.

“Safety is our top priority,” the spokesperson added. “Dubai Airports reminds all UAV operators that any and all activities are not permitted unless authorised by regulatory authorities and are strictly prohibited in restricted areas, including within five kilometres of any airport or landing area.”

WMCH drone photo by Clément Bucco-Lechat via wikimedia commons

WMCH drone photo by Clément Bucco-Lechat via wikimedia commons

The incident is the latest in a string of airport closures caused by drones in the UAE.

In June air traffic at Dubai International was brought to a standstill for just over an hour following the presence of an unauthorised drone, with a number of aircraft diverted to Dubai World Central Airport.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said that a drone potentially striking an aircraft could be very dangerous.

“Depending on the size of the drone, some of which can be as large as a light single-seat helicopter, the risk is that a jet could well be brought down,” he noted. “While engines are robustly tested for many types of ingestion, particularly birds, this new phenomenon with drones means that any collision could cause severe damage depending on the stage of flight – whether at taxi on the ground, take-off or landing.

“Any structural impact on any sized airplane would force an emergency. This may well lead to an airport or airspace closure or restriction.”

Speaking at the World Aviation Safety Summit held in Dubai earlier this year, Michael Rudolph, head of Aviation Regulation and Safety at the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), said “$1 million per minute – that’s what it cost the economy of Dubai.”

The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) noted that it is working with companies selling drones in the country to inform customers of regulations around owning drones and regulate their operations.

Flying "learning" robot photo/screenshot YouTube

Flying “learning” robot photo/screenshot YouTube

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- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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