Cyber Security

Incidents underscore need for drone detection at airports

13th February 2018
Lanna Cooper


Global provider of drone detection and mitigation products, DroneShield has recently noted multiple media reports of a video recently recorded by an unknown drone pilot flying his or her drone disturbingly close to a Frontier Airlines passenger jet as it came in to land at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

The video shows the drone 'dive bombing' the passenger jet - rapidly dropping towards it from above, as the passenger jet approaches the runway. This near-miss follows a number of incidents involving drones and manned aircraft. Recent incidents included:

  • A drone struck a passenger Boeing plane descending over theme park in Argentina.
  • A drone hit a commercial aircraft in Canada.
  • A drone and an airliner collided in Canada.
  • The Ben Gurion Airport in Israel halted traffic as a drone was spotted shortly after the United States Vice President Mike Pence disembarked from Air Force Two at the airport during a state visit.
  • A man in New Zealand was charged over the use of a drone which grounded eight helicopters involved in fighting an out-of-control fire.
  • A plane missed a drone by 'three seconds' over Glasgow.
  • Multiple near misses between planes and drones at Edinburgh airport.
  • The Sao Paolo Congonhas airport was shut down for two hours due to a drone scare.
  • Close encounters between planes and drones were reported at an Alabama airport.
  • Drones were reported to have impeded California firefighting efforts.
  • A drone prompted a diversion of an Arkansas wildfire surveillance plane.

Each incident of near collision between manned aircraft and drones has the potential of causing a heavy loss of life, both in the air and on the ground. Further, each such incident has the potential to cause substantial economic losses.

Airports are not powerless against the nearly-emerged (and no longer emerging) drone threat. DroneShield’s DroneSentinel drone detection system provides early warning of an incoming drone, including the location of the drone and the pilot. The system includes passive radiofrequency, as well as radar, acoustic, thermal and optical sensors.

DroneSentinel can be optionally combined with a jammer (in the DroneSentry product) to neutralise the incoming drone threat, following the detection. Additionally, DroneShield’s DroneGun is capable of mobile deployment to intercept rogue drones, as a tactical gun-like jammer.

Airports around the world have commenced budget allocations to drone detection and mitigation. DroneShield is proud to be in partnership with proactive rather than reactive infrastructure industry market leaders globally. But more needs to be done, in order to prevent the otherwise inevitable tragedies from happening.

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