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Drone sighting briefly grounds flights at Frankfurt airport

A drone sighting led to a shutdown of Frankfurt airport, one of Europe's busiest hubs
A drone sighting led to a shutdown of Frankfurt airport, one of Europe's busiest hubs dpa/AFP
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Berlin (AFP)

Frankfurt airport was shut down for nearly an hour on Thursday morning as operators halted flights over a drone sighting, in the latest such incident affecting a busy European hub.

No landings or take-offs were allowed after a drone was spotted over the southern part of the airport area in the early morning, but the all clear was given at 08:15 am (0615 GMT) at Germany's busiest airport.

The aviation authority said 143 take-offs and landings were cancelled and 48 aircraft already in the air were diverted to other airports among a total of 1,500 scheduled flights on Thursday.

The drone, which was approximately 1.5 metres in diameter, was spotted by several pilots.

Police are investigating and a helicopter tried to track the remote-controlled device after the latest drone incident to disrupt flights at the airport.

In March, flights were halted for half an hour at Frankfurt airport following a drone sighting, also over the southern part of the site, causing lengthy delays and the cancellation of 60 of that day's 1,439 scheduled flights.

German air traffic controllers registered a total of 158 obstructions to scheduled flights caused by drones in 2018, up around 80 percent on the 2017 figure.

Germany is not the only country to suffer from airborne pests.

London's Gatwick airport was shut down for three days last December over drone sightings, causing holiday travel misery for tens of thousands.

As a result, the British government in March brought into force a no-fly zone for drones within five kilometres of British airports.

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