Madrid airport has now reopened following the presence of a number of unmanned drones that were seen in the vicinity of the runways earlier in the day according to the Spanish Ministry of Transport.
Two pilots first reported the drones close to the runways just after mid day. This activated a process known as “Rate O,” which stops planes from landing and leaving the airport, according to the state air navigation organisation ENAIRE.
Aena said that at least 22 flights were diverted before airport staff were able to satisfy themselves that the drones presented no further threat. It is understood that the drone pilots have not yet been traced but the Civil Guard have sent officers to the scene to track down the owner of the drones.
At 2pm, Spain’s airport authority AENA confirmed that 22 flights had been diverted – at least six to Valencia, three to Barcelona, three to Zaragoza, and two to Alicante and Valladolid.
Flying drones near an airport is a serious violation and can lead to fines of up to €90,000. They cannot be flown within eight kilometres of any airport or airfield, or within six kilometres from the furthest runway.