Latvia closes airspace over missing drone

Apparently, coronavirus is not the only reason for countries issuing restrictions and grounding planes these days. An uncontrolled drone became an unexpected reason causing constraints about airspace use over the Riga International Airport (RIX) in Latvia.

On May 2, 2020, a drone went missing after the malfunction of its control systems. The Civil Aviation Agency made attempts to track the off-radars aerial vehicle, but to no avail. 

Identified as the property of UAVFactory, the drone was reportedly performing test flights at a 200-meter altitude when it lost communication with the maker. 

The 26-kilogram drone was flying at 70 km per hour and had enough fuel for 90 hours of flight, the Civil Aviation Agency informed, warning people about the uncontrolled drone and asking for help to locate it. 

In order to cope with the unusual incident, the Civil Aviation Agency closed the airspace over the airport, rescheduling flights to other airports abroad. A restriction of the use of all Latvian airspace at altitudes of up to 5,950 meters has also been issued.

Riga International Airport’s representative, Laura Karnite, told local media about the disruption caused in air traffic. Due to the incident a SmartLynx Riga-bound flight from Urumqi, China, was forced to land in Tallinn, Estonia, instead. 

The Latvian Army also assists in the search with An-2 biplane and a Mi-17 helicopter. 

The drone hasn’t yet been pinpointed. 

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