LONDON — Flights departing from Britain’s busiest airport were briefly suspended on Tuesday evening following a report of a drone sighting.
Heathrow Airport tweeted that it had stopped outgoing flights “as a precautionary measure” and was “working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety.”
London’s Metropolitan Police said that they received a report of a drone sighting in the vicinity of the airport just after 5 p.m.
By 7 p.m., Heathrow tweeted that departures had resumed.
Separately on Tuesday, the British government announced that police would be given new powers to forcibly land, seize and search drones. The government will also extend drone exclusion zones around airports.
Those measures came in response to earlier drone sightings that shut down Gatwick airport in the days before Christmas — the most extensive disruption caused by drones at a major airport. More than 120,000 passengers were affected.
Police have not charged anyone in relation to that incident. A couple was arrested and released without charge.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told Parliament that the Gatwick disruption was “deliberate, irresponsible and calculated, as well as illegal.”
“I’m very clear that when caught those responsible should face the maximum possible custodial sentence for this hugely irresponsible criminal act,” Grayling said.
Gatwick Airport is offering a £50,000 ($63,570) reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. Conservative politician Michael Ashcroft has offered an additional £10,000 ($12,700) through his Crimestoppers charity.
Drones can cause serious damage to an aircraft. When a drone collided with a passenger plane over Quebec City last year, the plane landed safely. But officials said a different point of impact could have been devastating.
Amar Nadhir contributed to this report.