Publication of royal helicopter timings a danger to the Royal Family?

After the decision has been taken to publish timings of the royal helicopter flights, questions are being asked as to the safety of the Royal Family.

Details of royal helicopter flights are now to be published 48 hours in advance of journeys, in the hope it will divert other pilots and drone operators, as part of safety alerts known as NOTAMs (Notice To Airmen).

Timings of the Royal Helicopter are now to be published out of safety fears. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

In 2016 there were 70 near-misses involving drones, and the Royal Household have decided this in light of the ever-busier skies, which puts helicopters at the highest risk of all aircraft.

All aircraft users, including pilots and drone operators, are required to check this NOTAM list prior to their excursion, to flag up any potential hazards on their route.

However, it seems far more likely this is actually a potential security risk.

Scotland Yard, which is responsible for royal security, were apparently consulted on the move, to weigh up the pros and cons of sharing such information publicly.

It was last week that the first details became available; it should be noted that the flight information does not include who will be in the helicopter.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which publishes hundreds of the alert lists each week, said the decision to publish information had been made by the Royal Household itself.

A statement said: “Following a review of helicopter flights by the Royal Household, route details will be provided to all airspace users including private pilots and drone users to allow them to remain clear.”

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

A spokeswoman for the Royals added: “In making travel arrangements, the Royal Household always seeks the best balance of security, efficiency and value for money.”

The Royal Family regularly uses the helicopter to reach destinations across the country and to enable them to undertake engagements in more than one area of the UK per day. The bill for 2016/17 was £1.2 million, including lease of the craft.

Experts are not convicned by the move. Dai Davies, who once headed the royal protection group, told the Mail on Sunday: “This gives me grave concern as to the overall risk potential.

“Why bother spending millions of pounds on protecting the Royal Family on the ground, then make this information available in advance? I just despair.”

Prof Anthony Glees, head of the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, called the move ‘incomprehensible’.

“Far from deterring people from flying drones nearby, they are in fact telling them how best to do so,” he explained. “To publicise where a Royal helicopter will be flying is to encourage terrorists, mad people and pranksters.

“There are some things that should be secret and I think royal flights are among them.”

What are your thoughts on the publication? Sensible or senseless?

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