Gatwick drone attack may have been an inside job, police say

The drone attack that brought Gatwick airport to a standstill last December may have been carried out by an insider at the airport.

Sussex Police told BBC Panorama programme the possibility that an “insider” was involved was a “credible line” of inquiry, while Gatwick’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, believes the individual behind the attack was familiar with the airport’s operational procedures.

Gatwick drone attack

“It was clear that the drone operators had a link into what was going on at the airport,” Woodroofe told Panorama in his first interview since the incident.

He said the perpetrator could see what was happening on the runway or was following the airport’s actions by eavesdropping on the airport’s radio or internet communications system.

The attacker had “specifically selected” a drone that would remain undetected by the airports DJI Aeroscope detection system that the airport was testing the time of the attack, he added.

Sussex Police said the investigation is ongoing and is expected to take “some months to complete”.

Woodroofe denied claims that the airport overreacted in response to the drone attack, and described the incident as “malicious” and “criminal”.

“There is absolutely nothing that I would do differently when I look back at the incident, because ultimately, my number one priority has to be to maintain the safety of our passengers, and that’s what we did,” he said.

“It was terrible that 140,000 people’s journeys were disrupted – but everyone was safe.”

Drone detection equipment

Gatwick has since invested £5m on drone detection equipment following the incident, which Panorama said included two sets of Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS), an anti-drone system made by a consortium of three British companies.

Woodroofe said he was confident that the airport is now in a better position to fend off any drone invasions.

“We would know the drone was arriving on site and we’d know where that drone had come from, where it was going to and we’d have a much better chance of catching the perpetrator,” he said

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