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Experts warn drones grounding planes at Gatwick Airport could happen at Mitchell International

Posted at 9:06 PM, Dec 20, 2018

For a second night in a row, Britain's second busiest airport is shut down. There is no word on when it will reopen because of continued sightings of drones over the runways.

Aviation experts warn something similar could easily happen at Mitchell Airport or any in the U.S.

"Our son was due in from Chicago this morning at 7 o'clock," said an unidentified traveler waiting at Gatwick Airport. "He's now in Paris and I don't quite know what's happening."

Hundreds of flights were grounded and then canceled as drones were spotted at the airport

"Each time we are getting ready to reopen the runway there's another drone sighting," said Chris Woodroofe, the chief operating officer of Gatwick Airport.

Drone sightings near airports are not new. Federal law requires drones operators leave a 5-mile radius around U.S. airports.A TODAY'S TMJ4 I-Team investigationfound dangerous drone operators break that law on average six times a day.

Former Navy pilot Tim Tyre and his business partner at Terra Vigilis, a drone safety company based in Waukesha studied the last drone shutdown at Gatwick.

They said something similar could easily happen at Mitchell Airport. The I-Team found there were at least five close calls at Mitchell, one of them while a Southwest plane was landing. Tyre said the consequences of a drone hitting a plane could be deadly.

"There's studies being done that show drones penetrating the aluminum skin of an aircraft and penetrating inside the infrastructure of a wing," said Tyre. "So if a drone hits a particular aircraft moving at some speed, potentially 200 or 300 knots, it could potentially take it down."