Drones shut down Dubai, Sharjah airports – again!

All drone activities must take place within the visual line of sight of the user and not above 400ft from ground level. Image: Gulf News Archives

Operations at Dubai International Airport were shut following drone intrusions into its high-security airspace on Saturday evening. Nearby Sharjah airport also closed its airspace, Gulf News reports.

Federal aviation officials said both airports closed air operations for nearly 90 minutes on Saturday evening to ensure the airspace was clear of drone interference.

Saif Al Suwaidi , Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), confirmed the temporary closures of the airports in a statement after normal flight operations resumed.
“Airspace around Sharjah and Dubai International was closed from 7.25pm to 9.10pm this evening due to unauthorised drone activity resulting in a number of delays at the airport,” Al Suwaidi said.

An unauthorised drone was said to have been spotted in Al Warqa area of Dubai as investigators carried out a sweeping search for the unidentified flying machine.

Dubai Airport staff confirmed the delay. “Airspace around Dubai International was closed from 1925 hrs to 2045 hrs on Saturday due to unauthorised drone activity resulting in the diversion of 22 inbound flights. Dubai Airports is working closely with its stakeholders to return operations to normal to minimise customer inconvenience,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Gulf News. “Safety is our top priority and Dubai Airports reminds all UAV operators that any and all activities are not permitted unless authorised by regulatory authorities and are strictly prohibited in restricted areas including within 5 kilometres of any airport or landing area.”

Earlier closures this year were in September and June.

New law

In late September, a senior staff member of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said that a new UAE law to restrict import and sale of drones will soon be implemented in the UAE due to the growing use of drones in the country.

Mohammad Al Dossary, director of air navigation and aerodromes department, said the authority is working with the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology on the new law.“We are working with the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology on a law that will have a framework for the UAE on the sale and import of drones. Once the law is implemented, you will have restrictions on the sale and import of drones and only certain sizes of drones will be there in the market,” Al Dossary told reporters at the Drones Middle East conference in Abu Dhabi.

Currently drones can be purchased from retailers in Dubai and some other parts of the UAE. However, Abu Dhabi banned the sale of drones last year due to risks posed to the aviation sector.

“The challenge that we are facing is people are not aware of the requirements. Several incidents have happened in the UAE caused by individuals who are not familiar with our requirements and they fly the drones,” Al Dossary said.

More than 400 drones have been registered with the GCAA, mostly for commercial purposes for use in real estate, agriculture and the oil and gas industry.