The individuals operating the drone had knowledge of operational procedures and systems, the airport’s management and police say.
The drone incident that brought operations at London’s Gatwick Airport to a standstill in the run-up to Christmas could have been an “inside job”, police and the airport management say.
Gatwick’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, told the BBC’s Panorama programme that the chaos was caused by someone with knowledge of operational procedures.
The people operating the “seemed to be able to see what was happening on the runway”, he said, adding: “It was clear that the drone operators had a link into what was going on at the airport.”
He also said the perpetrator had carefully selected a drone that would not be detected by the airport’s drone detection system.
Along with other airports in the UK and beyond, Gatwick has since invested in more extensive drone protection measures and deterrents, while the British government has given new powers to the police to combat any similar drone attacks.
Line of enquiry
Police confirmed to the programme that the possibility an insider was involved was a “credible line” of inquiry.
About 1,000 flights were diverted or cancelled when the airport was forced to ground flights for 33 hours during December 19 to 21 due to reports of drone activity.
Some companies in the travel sector have been refused insurance payouts to cover the cost of the disruption to their businesses, due to the unprecedented nature of the incident, TTG reports.