In 2019 alone, the number of reported drone incidents rose dramatically, ranging from near collisions with aircraft, incursions into critical infrastructures, military airspace and prison facilities to the attempted assassination attack on the Venezuelan President. It’s become evident to authorities that implementing counter-measures for drone incursions are not a “nice to have” they are an integral part of public safety and security.
Major airports, such as Gatwick, Heathrow and Malpensa to name a few, were affected by drone activity in no-flight zones, raising serious concerns to passenger safety and the day to day operations of airlines. In the US, the FAA has already set new regulatory laws for drone operators flying their drones within a five-mile radius of the airport. The problem lies in enforcing these regulations; rogue drone operators are in abundance.
So how do we combat the drone invasion era? The solution perhaps lies in the aviation authorities passing a mandatory requirement for the installation of anti-drone and counter-measure systems at all major airports. In the case of Gatwick, both police and airport authorities were scrambling for an effective solution for nearly three days, to prevent the recurring drone incursion to no avail. The authorities were forced to bring in the reinforcements; the British Army anti-drone solution that was actually purchased for military use.
Counter- is the operative word here, preventive measures are always more productive, and it’s clear that more and more airports will be investing in anti-drone solutions over the next year. In terms of ROI, taking into consideration the potential threat to public safety, the airline’s loss of earnings due to airport closure and the negative PR, the initial investment of an anti-drone system pales in comparison.