Airports that rely on the system will be more vulnerable to unauthorised drone activity. To maintain security levels, these organisations will need to find and invest in alternative solutions.
In February 2023, Dublin Airport temporarily suspended all flights due to illegal drone activity. Flight operations were suspended for 30 minutes before resuming, without any diversions reported. There had been a series of drone-related disruptions at the airport in the weeks before this incident. Two people were charged with disrupting flights with drones, and the government has promised to address the issue.
There have been multiple incidents involving drones at airports worldwide, disrupting operations and raising safety concerns. One of the most infamous drone-related incidents occurred at London’s Gatwick Airport in December 2018. Multiple drone sightings near the airport caused widespread disruption over a period of three days, affecting over 140,000 passengers and leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights. The airport was closed for more than 30 hours, resulting in significant losses.
These and similar incidents highlighted the need to implement effective measures against drones. There is no question that airports are vulnerable to drone attacks or drone incursions.
There must be C-UAS solutions in place, and they must be multi-layered to mitigate drone risks. Rogue drones can be detected, tracked, and neutralised using such solutions. Comprehensive C-UAS systems may include radar systems capable of detecting and tracking drones in real-time, providing airport security personnel with valuable information about drone location and flight path. Radio frequency (RF) sensors can track drones and their operators which detect communication signals between them. Electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors provide security personnel with additional situational awareness by visually tracking drones. Rogue drone threats are neutralised by deploying various techniques once it has been detected and tracked. The methods used may include RF jamming, GPS spoofing, or physical methods like nets or lasers.
There are several challenges to overcome before C-UAS can be used to secure airports against drone threats: New C-UAS technologies must be compatible with existing airport security systems to minimise disruptions and maximise efficiency. Airport operators need to carefully plan for the integration of new security measures into existing infrastructure. Additionally, laws and regulations governing counter-drone technologies can complicate the deployment of C-UAS solutions. Investing in and maintaining C-UAS technologies can be expensive, Burdening airport operators financially.
In the C-UAS sector, one prominent C-UAS authority is Skylock, offering a multi-layered platform customised to detect, verify, and neutralise unauthorised drones
Discontinuation of DJI’s AeroScope system has negative impacts.
DJI recently discontinued the AeroScope drone detection and identification system to protect airports, government agencies, and private businesses from unauthorised drone penetration. Despite not formally announcing the move, a pop-up screen on the AeroScope product page confirmed that the AeroScope system has been halted. AeroScope is accused of being manipulated by Russian forces in conflicts with Ukraine, and DJI drones have been accused of posing security threats.
The discontinuation of DJI’s AeroScope drone detection and identification system significantly impacts airport security, as airports that rely on the system will be more vulnerable to unauthorised drone activity, posing risks to passengers, aircraft, and operations. To maintain security levels, these organisations must find and invest in alternative solutions, such as Skylock’s C-UAS tailor-made systems. The transition to new drone detection systems may result in temporary gaps in coverage, increasing security risks during the implementation period.
Additionally, airports must ensure their new systems comply with relevant regulations and industry standards while considering the potential budgetary implications of replacing AeroScope. Considering the allegations against DJI and AeroScope, airports and other organisations may reassess their trust in technology providers and consider the potential security risks associated with using their products.
The discontinuation of DJI’s AeroScope system necessitates addressing the various security risks and challenges linked to finding and implementing alternative drone detection and identification solutions.