Norway’s second largest airport closed for 2 hours after a drone alert in a tense security context

The airport of Bergen Flesland closed for two hours after several observations of drone flying in the area. In a tense security context given Russia-Ukraine conflict, Norwegian authorities are on the lookout.

A drone flying in Norway
A drone flying in Norway | Illustration © Thomas Bjornstad, 2018

Bergen Flesland Airport temporarily closed on October 19 after police received several reports about a drone flying in the area.

Bergen Airport closed from 6.30 in the morning for approximately two hours, canceling a couple of dozen departures and delaying more flights. It followed several reports of possible drone observations in the area from 4.15 am, including one sure observation according to the operations manager of the airport.

Bergen Flesland Airport, located in the southwest of Norway is the second largest one of the country, where 135 flights were supposed to depart Tuesday to Norwegian and European cities.

Police went to Flesland, Bjorøy island and Haakonsvern, the military base of the Norwegian navy, to check on the situation.

The same morning, pilots and the control tower at the airport of Førde, a very small airport approximately 100 km north of Bergen, also reported a drone was in the no-fly zone of 5 kilometers (3 miles) set around any airport in Norway.

If it was still unclear whether all observations at Bergen were actually of drones, police asked the meteorological institute whether some of them could have been from a weather phenomenon, the issue is taken very seriously by Norwegian authorities in the context of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

On October 16, Stavanger and Haugesund airports, which are also in the southwest of the country hundreds of miles away from the Russian land border with Norway, had already been temporarily closed after possible drone observations.

As a result of the war in Ukraine, Norway closed its airspace to Russian companies and Russians. And as a consequence, Russians are also prohibited from flying drones in Norway.

Several Russians have been arrested in recent days for matters related to drones and illegal photographs.

Four Russians were arrested on October 11 after they were suspected of having taken illegal photographs of some locations. The same day, a Russian man was arrested at a border check near the Norwegian-Russian border at Storskog in possession of two drones and electronic storage devices. He admitted having flown his drones in Norway. He was also in possession of two Russian and one Israeli passports. The same week, another Russian was arrested at Tromsø in the north of the country after an employee at the airport saw the man taking pictures in the area. He was in possession of a drone, which the police seized.

Lederne, a Norwegian organization for managers and executives with 17,000 members, called for a temporary nationwide ban on drone flights, calling drone traffic “an unnecessary extra burden” given the current security threats, which also ultimately affect business travel.

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