BUAVA Statement on Gatwick Incident

BUAVA Statement on Gatwick Incident

The Barbados UAV Association (BUAVA) has been following the recent 'drone' incident at Gatwick Airport closely and has the following comments.

The disruption and inconvenience caused by this rogue drone user (or users) is an unfortunate and regrettable incident but one that should have been mitigated. The type of drone used in this incident is not a typical consumer level drone - your typical consumer level drone is blocked from flying in sensitive areas (for example, near airports) through the software used to control the drone. This 'geofencing' map is constantly updated to restrict flying in prohibited areas. Furthermore the drone has to be centrally registered in order to activate it. The drone used in the Gatwick incident is likely to be a custom-made, home-built or hacked drone. 

Tremendous steps have been made with consumer drones to ensure their safe and legal operation - from height and distance limits, to extensive, complex, prohibited zones. Further information can be found on this subject at https://www.dji.com/flysafe. Our own proposed guidelines for Barbados can be found at https://buava.bb/flysafe.

The Barbados UAV Association has previously been in contact with the leading drone manufacturer in the world to have Barbados' airport, Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), no-fly zone radius corrected from the currently programmed 1km radius to the Barbados Civil Aviation Authorities' (CAA) mandated 5km radius.

The U.K. has a 1km radius ban on drone operation near airports. There have been calls to increase this ban to 5km, which, while sensible, will make no difference to someone who is already willing and able to ignore a 1km ban.

What is more surprising is that a major international airport had no contingency plan or equipment in place to deal with this type of incident. Anti-drone systems have been available for some time and it is paramount that major airports have them in place should they be required. Some of these systems have been successfully tested at other airports in the U.K and Europe. These include AeroScope, a hardware solution which can detect and identify any drone in the surrounding airspace, air to air drone catching and DroneShield to name a few.

BUAVA's position is that a ban on consumer drones would make no difference at all to these type of incidents as it is not consumer level equipment that is being used - measures are already in place to control consumer drones.

Furthermore, stricter rules will not stop these incidents as the type of person who seeks to cause these issues will simply continue to ignore them.

However, harsher penalties should be in place to act as a deterrent along with hardware available on site to ensure that any perpetrators are brought swiftly to justice.

BUAVA remains available to the CAA and GAIA for consultation and advice.


The Barbados UAV Association (BUAVA) is a non-profit association comprising of recreational and commercial UAV operators in Barbados who endeavour to be responsible pilots that uphold the objectives of the Association. Further information can be found on our website at https://buava.bb