Met Police calls on plane spotters to help monitor skies over Heathrow

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The Met Police is appealing for sharp-eyed plane spotters to help them keep watch on the skies around Heathrow Airport.

The forced called for volunteers to join “Heathrow Airport Watch” on Monday evening “to help prevent crime and terrorism”.

The appeal comes just weeks after Gatwick Airport was brought to a three-day standstill by mysterious drone sightings, while Heathrow itself has also suffered issues.

Tens of thousands of people had their Christmas ruined by the rogue aircraft, which have so far proved impossible to trace.

Drones close Gatwick airport
The Arrivals Board at Gatwick which was closed after drones were spotted over the airfield (Victoria Jones/PA)

Last Tuesday evening, it looked like passengers at Heathrow could face similar misery after a drone was sighted close to the airport, prompting it to suspend flights for an hour.

The Met said of the scheme: “Heathrow Airport Watch is a membership scheme for aviation enthusiasts run by the Met’s Aviation Policing Unit.

“Its purpose is to help prevent crime and terrorism by asking its members to look out for anything out of the ordinary and to contact us if they see anything suspicious.

“The scheme works by providing members with a photo identity card and lanyard to wear, so they can be easily identified by police and security teams at the airport.”

The Met said applicants would be charged £7.50 to cover a security check and the cost of producing and posting the identity card.

Successful applicants were also asked to familiarise themselves with the airport’s bylaws.

The force emphasised that the scheme was not a paid role within the Met.

Following the disruption over the Christmas period, both Gatwick and Heathrow announced they would be investing millions in anti-drone technology.

In a statement on January 4, a spokesman for Heathrow said: “The safety of our passengers and colleagues remains our top priority.

“Working closely with relevant authorities including the Met Police, we are constantly looking at the best technologies that help remove the threat of drones.”

Gatwick and Heathrow have yet to announced the specific equipment they will use to tackle the threat of drones.

The Israeli-developed Drone Dome system is believed to be among the technology used at Gatwick by the Army during its intervention in the incident.

The anti-drone equipment can detect and jam communications between a drone and its operator and was deployed on a roof of the airport.

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