The world’s busiest airport for international travel, Dubai International has again faced disruption in its airspace by suspected drone activity. Alleged drones flying near the airport have disrupted flight arrivals for about 15 minutes after midday local time. It caused the long-haul carrier, Emirates to divert two flights to DWC and Sharjah where they landed safely. Though flying drones near the airport is illegal and prohibited as per UAE law, it’s not the first time Dubai International had suspended operations due to unauthorized drone activity. This year, on February 15, it had suspended flight departures between 1013 hours and 1045 hours UAE local time for the same reason.
Suspected Drone forces Emirates flights to divert from Dubai International
Despite repeated warnings by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), unauthorized aerial activity had taken place in the vicinity of the airport. Suspected drone activity disrupted flights on 22 September between 12:36pm and 12:51pm local time (GMT+0400). For the safety of its passengers and crew, Emirates diverted two flights to DWC and Sharjah. Flight EK433, scheduled from Brisbane to Dubai with a layover at Singapore, was diverted to Dubai World Central (DWC) while the second flight EK511 scheduled from Delhi to Dubai, was diverted to Sharjah International Airport. However, the diverted flights returned back to Dubai International when the airspace reopened. The leading airline has apologized to its passengers for the inconvenience caused and has assisted affected passengers with alternative rebooking options and hotel accommodation.
UAE suspects Military Drone
The emirate had faced disruption after military drones were used to stage major attacks on Saudi Arabia, including the devastating strike on major oil facilities that knocked out half of Riyadh´s crude production. As UAE is a key partner in the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Huthis since 2015, Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports have been targeted by the Yemen´s Iran-backed rebels now and then.
Know the UAE Law
In UAE, drone owners must register with the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority. Operating a drone without a licence can be hit with a Dh20,000 fine. Also, these devices cannot be flown within 5 kms of an airport. Authorities have also banned hobbyists from putting cameras or lasers on their drones and flying in certain areas. Violating the law by flying drones in unauthorized locations can lead to stringent penalties including jail and up to Dh100,000 fines.
Safety in Airspace
Several airports around the world have taken a variety of measures to improve safety in airspace occupied by aircraft at low altitudes during take-off and landing. London Heathrow has signal jammers to incapacitate drones flying illegally in its airspace. In Holland, the airport Police used trained falcons and eagles to intercept and down unauthorized drones.