DRONE NEAR-MISS INCIDENTS AT BRITISH AIRPORTS AND SOLUTIONS

The Gatwick drone near-miss incident prior to Christmas caused a temporary runway closure and disruptive misery for 140,000 passengers. This resulted in mass disruption, affecting about 1,000 flights at one of the busiest travel times of the year. The world aviation bodies have to urgently seek for an innovative way of detecting a drone approaching an airport and safely putting it down to forestall future occurrence.

The passengers were forced to sleep on planes and airport floors. (Independent news, 2018).  Throngs of travelers spent their morning waiting inside the Gatwick’s terminal for updates, while others reported being stuck on grounded planes for hours, with several incoming planes diverted.

Business activities associated with the airport including airlines, retailers, hotels and taxis are believed to have lost millions in combined revenues due to the disruption. (Standard news, 2018).

SUBSEQUENT DRONE  NEAR-MISS INCIDENTS

Sequel to the Christmas incident, two easy jet flights from Barcelona and Amsterdam respectively was initially sent to Stansted before making a landing at Gatwick.

A Gatwick spokesman told journalists that, the Gatwick investigated a report of an unconfirmed sighting of an object outside the airport’s 5Kms exclusion zone but – following a full assessment – the airport has remained fully operational throughout. (The Telegraph, 2019).

Yet another more recent drone near-miss incident happened just 4 days after the flying drones ban extension from 1 to 5 Kms from airports on March 17, 2019. The report concluded this drone near-miss incident placed the plain significantly in danger.

THE SOLUTIONS FOR DRONE NEAR-MISS INCIDENTS AT BRITISH AIRPORTS

What could give a reasonable solution for this constant drone near-miss incidents happening recently at British airports?

For further mitigation of drones’ attacks which might lead to airport closures and delayed flights, the Gatwick and Heathrow airports are investing heavily in innovative ways to detect a drone approaching an airport and safely put it down.

Millions of pounds are already invested into the anti-drone technology by the Gatwick and Heathrow to avoid delayed flights as a result of drones attack.

The spokesman for Gatwick airport revealed that the airport had spent several million pounds on new defenses after flights were grounded on its runway during the Christmas run-up. 

He went ahead to reveal that the safety of the passengers and colleagues will always remain their top priority. (Independent news, 2019).

 

INNOVATIVE WAYS OF DETECTING AND SHUTTING DOWN DRONES

The UK government recently announced that new powers are given to the police to tackle illegal use of drone technology, including the power to land, seize and search for drones. However, these regulations may do little to discourage a user with malicious intent.  The latest breakthrough in technology for detecting and jamming a drone system is as follows.

Geo-fencing

The Geo-fencing technology option is designed to automatically limit where drones can fly. Some drones made by DJI are already loaded with such software, preventing them from flying where illegal operations are illegal, such as at airports and military bases.

Detection

Various software and hardware are now designed for airports with the sole purpose of detecting drones kilometers far away. The television signals may also be employed in detecting drones.

Eric Saczuk, an instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, stated that the system that was specifically designed to detect particular manufacture of drones, its ability to detect all types of drones is yet unclear.

Putting them down

With the detection system in place, putting them down poses less duty. The drones can be shot down (there’s a concern of stray bullets as in Gatwick incident) or jammed with jamming guns which posses high radio frequency that can override the operation of the drone.

Also, some high tech companies have come up with drones with the sole purpose of hunting other drones. The British-based Company Skywall uses air-powered cannons to launch nets at drones and bring them down.

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