DeDrone: Drones and airports don't mix

Over the years, countless stories of federal airspace dealing with safety concerns for passenger aircraft and disruption of airline operations due to drone activity. The issues of drones causing disturbances and risks are real, if a drone does crash into a vehicle then damage will occur to both vehicles. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established The FAA Modernization and Reauthorization Act in 2012, putting into law a requirement for hobbyist drone operators to contact their local airport management and the air traffic control tower if they plan to fly their drone within five miles of an airport. The rule has gone unnoticed by hobbyist drone users even though the notification requirement was designed to provide the airport an opportunity to prepare for drone activity. Those who overlook the act, have raised concerns for airports, aircraft pilots and passenger safety.

In February 2017, the FAA released their updated UAS Sightings Report, indicating reports of possible drone detections near FAA air traffic facilities. In 2015 drone sightings were reported at a number of 874, then an increase occurred during 2016 with 1,274 reports from February through September 2016. Several reports from pilots included claims that drones had struck their aircraft but to date the FAA has not verified any collision between a civil aircraft and a civil drone. Investigations into the claims have found that the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other item such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft. The increase in sightings and reports of drones in federal airspace does raise concern of collision with an aircraft but issues remain minimal, if not reported whatsoever.

Airport operators are considering how to approach drone safety measures and determine the additional risks that drones pose to their overall security program with the increase in sightings. Airports are multifaceted security centers with officer monitoring the airfield, tarmac and fences, people on the ground following cargo and passenger baggage, and managers of warehouses that contain fleet maintenance programs. The FAA and airports are aware of the dangers drones pose to their airspace alongside the thousands of safety and security elements that exist on a single day in the life of an airport, and each component has a different security risk. Questionable security concerns arise between the gap of knowledge and understanding of the intention of drones within physical ground of airports.

The recent findings from the FAA of issues pertaining to threat of passenger aircraft interruption and collision remains a priority to airports around the world. Drone operators have no physical barriers, and clear access to maps, charts and other materials to support a precise, targeted flight. All airports are required by the FAA have materials made public such as printed charts of instrument approach procedures, a resource for pilots to use as a measurement of their flightpath in the event they cannot visually see the approach. The chart helps note the specific distance from the airport through an accurate measurement of the altitude that needs to be kept. If drone activity is addressed through early detection, it can then provide warning to pilots of potential distractions/risks to their airspace.

Dedrone announced a partnership with Airbus DS Electronics and Border Security (EBS), to address airport security gaps in 2016. It is a drone detection software solution which complements the security measure in place at airports and does not interfere with any radar or other detection programs. Dedrone integrates Airbus’s long range radar technology into its systems, which are comprised of ground-based sensors, data analytics and reporting software.The radar, and the data collected from it, expands the range of Dedrone’s detection systems to a radius of up to 3 kilometers in open spaces. Detection solutions exist for airport security managers, and are a critical part of the overall security equation for the thousands of people travelling through and working at their operations as a proactive option. If you would like more information on the issues feel free to visit www.dedrone.com

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