• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Drones fly over Paris landmarks during night

The Local/AFP · 24 Feb 2015, 08:15

Published: 24 Feb 2015 08:15 GMT+01:00

At least five drones were spotted flying over central Paris landmarks during the night and police were unable to catch the operators.

The first drone sighting was near the US embassy in the French capital. The Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde and the Invalides military museum "were also flown over" in the early hours of Tuesday, a security source told AFP.

All the flights were detected between midnight and 6am.

"It could be a coordinated action but we don't know for now," the source, who asked not to be identified, said. "We did everything to try and catch the operators but they were not found," another source close to the investigation said.

WATCH THIS: Paris by drone - banned but beautiful


(Photo: Screengrab YouTube/Stalin Velasquez)A specialist aviation unit of the police is investigation the reports of the drone flights, but for the moment authorities have no idea who was behind the controls.

And police officials said a dedicated team of air transport officers had been formed to tackle the incident, and that witnesses were being questioned.
   
"There are many eyewitness accounts and investigators must sift through actual descriptions and others to determine the exact path of these drones," an investigator said.
 
The incidents are just the latest in the long line of mysterious drone appearances in France, although until Tuesday "there have never been so many drones appearing in one night," the security source said.

A spokesperson from the US embassy refused to comment to The Local on the matter, adding that "the embassy isn't giving any interviews at all".

Earlier this year a drone was spotted flying over the Elysée Palace at night and last year questions were asked about security at France's nuclear power stations after at least drone flights were reported at several plants.

French author and air safety expert Christophe Naudin said: “My hypothesis would be that it is some kind of ‘eco-terrorist’ group, who want to demonstrate how the state is incapable of reacting against this new kind of threat.

“It appears to have been a very well organised operation, involving several drones, that may have been operated manually or on pre-programmed flights,” he said.

“It was done to ridicule the state and the forces of law and order and to show they are not capable of protecting the population," Naudin told The Local.

Naudin believes drones will be a real threat to security in the future.

"One day they will be used for something dangerous," he said. "Currently drones are not developed enough to be able to carry something like a grenade or a bomb but in the years to come they will be. At the moment terrorists don't have the training to be able to use them, but that won't always be the case."

French law bans small, civilian drones from areas such as nuclear facilities, which are protected by a no-fly zone that spans a 2.5-kilometre (1.6-mile) radius and a height of 1,000 metres.

READ ALSO: Should we be worried about drone flights over Paris?

Story continues below…

Experts say that the small unmanned craft would not pose a threat if they crashed into a hardened nuclear facility, whose reactors are built to withstand the impact of mid-sized commercial planes.

But the country has nevertheless launched a one-million-euro ($1.1-million) programme aimed at developing ways of detecting and intercepting them.

Drones come in all shapes and sizes, and have a variety of uses, from widely reported military applications to surveillance, filmmaking, sports, disaster relief and scientific research.

The most basic unmanned aircraft are radio-controlled by someone nearby, but other more sophisticated models can be pre-programmed, and these are widely available for just 350 to 400 euros ($440 to $500).

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Summer in France: The top ten beaches
Photo: Gomezdegomera/Flickr

How many have you been to?

France braces for busiest day of traffic all summer
Photo: AFP

Thinking of driving this weekend? The French are being advised to think twice.

Opinion
'France has problems but it's not on brink of civil war'
A French police officer stands in front of a Muslim prayer room after it was destroyed by a fire, suspected to be arson, in Ajaccio.. Photo: AFP

While certain French politicians and security chiefs have openly talked of the nightmare prospect of civil war in France, one expert tells The Local the country is too resolute to go down that path.

Ten hidden gems in France you should visit this summer
Photo: Erik Harström/Flickr

Looking for holiday ideas this summer?

What's on: Ten cool things to do in France in August 2016
Photo: AFP

August is almost here - and we've got you covered for events.

Paris in August: Should you stay or should you go now?
Photo: AFP

When it comes to August in Paris, you're either a stayer or a goer. But which is the best choice?

French PM: 'France needs new relationship with Islam'
Photo: AFP

As France struggles to get to grips with an increasing number of terror attacks the French PM says the country needs a new relationship with Islam.

France's Muslims urged to attend mass in solidarity
Photo: AFP

A leading Muslim group in France has called on its community to attend a church mass this Sunday to show solidarity with Christians after the recent jihadist killing of a priest.

Hopes hit as France reports 'disappointing' zero growth
Photo: AFP

Hopes of small economic growth in France were hit on Friday when the latest GDP figures were announced.

Air France strike affects 30,000 passengers each day
Photo: AFP

The week-long Air France cabin crew strike continued on Friday with some 30,000 passengers hit by cancellations each day.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Travel
Summer in France: The top ten beaches
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
France: A timeline of terror since the Charlie Hebdo attack
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
2,757
jobs available