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Drones ground flights at Frankfurt Airport

Flights at Frankfurt Airport were temporarily grounded, on Thursday, due to sighting of a drone, a spokesman for Fraport, which operates Germany’s largest air traffic hub, said.

Germany’s air-traffic control authority said that 143 take-offs and landings were halted and 48 planes were diverted to other airports during a 45-minute stoppage period.

Lufthansa said 15, 000 of its passengers were impacted.

Many pilots reported a red-painted drone of about 1.5 metres in diameter operating at the southern end of the airport.

The size of the reported drone suggests that it may have been a professional one that required a state licence to operate.

Police gave the all-clear again when the drone could no longer be seen.

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State and federal police were conducting a search without discovering the aerial vehicle or its operator.

“It’s not the first time traffic at Frankfurt Airport has been halted due to a drone sighting.

“The last such suspension occurred at the end of March,’’ Germany’s air-traffic control authority said.

The incident on Thursday sparked a debate over whether German airports should be better prepared for drone sightings.

Some politicians called for new drone-spotting technologies to be adopted. However, Germany’s pilots’ unions warned that such defences could also pose other risks and should be considered carefully.

Germany’s air traffic control authority registered 158 reports of drones at airports in 2018, about 80 per cent more than the previous year.

Another 17 cases have been registered since the start of this year. (NAN)