Drone flights disrupt southwest Chinese airport for third time in recent days

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 12:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 4:17pm

Authorities in Chengdu in Sichuan province have vowed to crack down on illegal use of drones after the city’s airport saw flights disrupted by the unmanned aerial vehicles last week, mainland media reported.

More than 10,000 passengers were stranded at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport on Friday after more than 60 flights were interrupted by four drones, the third such incident in recent days.

Some 58 flights were diverted to other airports, including Xian and Chongqing and four flights were forced to return, according to Western China City Daily. The report said one drone was discovered passing just underneath a plane coming in for a landing.

Chinese authorities investigate drone flights in restricted airspace

Chengdu police arrested one person for illegally flying drones on Saturday, news website Thepaper.cn reported, adding an investigation was continuing.

On Monday, 11 flights to Chengdu were forced to land in neighbouring Chongqing and at least 19 flights were diverted to other airports on Tuesday due to drones flying in the airspace.

A notice released by the provincial public security bureau said drones could not be in the vicinity of civilian or military airports without approval. The bureau offered 10,000 yuan (HK$11,300) for information about any unauthorised use of drones.

The number of incidents of drones affecting airport service increased from four in 2015 to 23 last year, according to statistics provided by the civil aviation administration.

Chinese man held after flying drone close to landing aircraft

So far this year, the number of incidents in southwest mainland alone has hit at least 10.

Last May, one runway at the Chengdu airport was shut down for nearly 90 minutes due to a drone in the airspace , affecting take-off and landing for some 55 flights.

State media has called for additional regulations restricting the use of drones to protect public safety, saying unauthorised use would lead to risks.

“Such regulations should be introduced as early as possible to ensure the safety of civil aviation while we can use drones for our convenience and entertainment,” said a commentary published by China Central Television on Sunday.