Belfast Telegraph

Met calls in Belfast security expert to probe Heathrow drone incident

Andrew McQuillan
Andrew McQuillan
Plane taxis at Heathrow Airport
Emma Deighan

By Emma Deighan

A Belfast security firm has been called in to fight the UK's 'game of drones'.

Crowded Space Drones has been asked to investigate a drone at Heathrow Airport this week which saw flights suspended at the world's third busiest airport for around an hour.

The business, based at Adelaide Street, was asked by the Metropolitan Police to support military operations at the airport after the sighting halted departures at one of its runways on Tuesday.

Run by Andrew McQuillan, Crowded Space Drones has "significant" experience in aerial filming for a number of television stations including Sky, BBC and MTV, as well as for Liverpool Football Club, according to its website.

The global operation is used by government agencies, emergency services and authorities to deploy crews for crowd management, public safety, counter terrorism and other incidents.

The son of former PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Alan McQuillan, Andrew would not comment on the company's role in the ongoing Heathrow Airport investigation.

However, he recently told Australian newspaper The Age how his previous company had prevented Game Of Thrones spoilers leaking out.

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The success of the HBO fantasy drama led to the use of drones being flown above sets in Northern Ireland to take photos.

"The paparazzi really innovated drone technology and we had to respond to that. The more I looked into it, the more interesting it became," he said.

"Our technology developed and we kept (Game Of Thrones character) Jon Snow dead for a year without people realising it, so we were very happy."

The criminal investigation has seen airports step up measures to stop drones grounding flights.

The Heathrow event came three weeks after drone sightings caused chaos at Gatwick before Christmas, affecting the travel plans of thousands as the airport halted flights. It's understood Mr McQuillan was also called in to help in that incident.

The Department for Transport said it is working with the aviation industry to look at technical solutions.

The Airport Operators' Association, a trade body representing UK airports, said: "In light of events at Gatwick and Heathrow, airports are working together, with Government and the police, to see what lessons can be learnt.

"This includes looking at what technology is available and what deterrent action, such as increased police patrols, can be taken."

Belfast Telegraph