Rogue Drone Shuts Down the Third Busiest Airport in the World, Dubai International

File photo of Dubai Airport from 2017
Photo: AP

Dubai International Airport (DXB) was shut down and all flights were grounded for roughly 30 minutes this morning after a drone was spotted in the area, Dubai Media Office reported on Twitter. It was the latest airport shut down in what’s becoming a troubling pattern of drone sightings around the globe.

“Dubai Airports confirms that operations at Dubai International are back to normal after less than 30 minutes of delay due to unauthorized drone activity,” Dubai Media Office tweeted. The airport was shut down from between 10:13 am and 10:45 am local time, according to Business Insider.

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Dubai International in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the third busiest airport in the world when measured by number of passengers—right behind Beijing Capital International Airport and the world’s busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Over 88 million passengers flying through Dubai International every year.

The past few months have seen a number of airports shutting down for various periods of time in response to drone sightings. Flights were grounded at Newark Liberty Airport on January 22, 2019, at Heathrow Airport in the UK on January 8, 2019, and at Gatwick Airport in the UK on December 20 and 21, 2018. Over 1,000 flights were cancelled at Gatwick, causing disruptions for over 140,000 passengers.

Authorities in all three locations still have no idea who was behind the drone flights and, in the case of Gatwick Airport, some authorities have questioned whether there was a drone at all. The only thing we know for sure is that even the rumor of a drone in the vicinity can devastate air travel, something we take for granted as a part of modern life in the 21st century.

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Planes can’t safely take off and land when there are drones around due to the possibility of collision. There are laws around the world against flying hobby drones too closely to airports and airports have started to take anti-drone protections more seriously after the relatively small aircraft caused such serious disruptions.

Gizmodo has reached out to the Dubai Media Office for more information about this latest drone incident and will update this article if we hear back.

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[Sky News via Reuters via Business Insider]

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About the author

Matt Novak

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog