There is no denying that drones have some important uses both in terms of commercial benefits and health and safety benefits. However, along with the positives that drone use brings there are some very concerning negatives. For instance, drones have been used to deploy explosives and they also pose great dangers to aircraft when they fly in their path.
It seems that the occurrences of airport drone attacks are increasing, and the consequences are very significant in many cases. The biggest UK incident to date happened between 19-21 December 2018 when Gatwick Airport was brought to a standstill due to a drone attack that police investigators believe to have been a planned attack, involving someone with inside knowledge of the airport’s operational procedures.
It is estimated that 140,000 passengers were affected with around 1000 flights either diverted or cancelled. It was reported that the attack cost the airport around £1.4m but airlines were hit even harder, with EasyJet said to have lost £15m through the attack. The perpetrators have not been caught yet.
In January 2019, there was more drone disruption at the UK’s biggest airport Heathrow, although this time the disruption was limited to an hour. Protestors then threatened to fly drones around Heathrow Airport in June 2019 but did not carry out their threats, following a statement from the police to say that ‘Endangering the safety of an aircraft can result in a life sentence.’
Even more recently, a similar incident to the Gatwick chaos occurred where unauthorised drone flying affected flights at Singapore’s Changi Airport twice in one week. In the first instance, 37 flights were delayed and one was diverted, then just six days later 15 departures were delayed and 7 flights were diverted due to drone sightings.
Steps in the prevention of airport drone attacks
Following the Gatwick incident, the government took steps to prevent this from happening again, extending the ‘no-fly’ zone around airports to within 5km of an airport, a considerable increase from the previous distance of 1km. They also introduced stricter penalties that apply to anyone involved in unauthorised flying of drones.
Whilst these are definitely steps in the right direction, they are unable to actually prevent an airport drone attack from occurring. Technology in the form of anti-drone systems is the only way that airports can take control and ensure that these attacks do not happen again, along with the huge financial implications they resulted in.
So what can be done? There are a number of anti-drone products available such as MADS anti-drone system which would have prevented these incidents from happening altogether. MADS is able to detect the drone as soon as it entered the 5km no-fly zone and would have immediately taken action to mitigate the threat. An electronic exclusion zone would have been created and the drone’s signal would have been lost, forcing it to land.
As drone use continues to rise and the severity of drone misuse also continues to grow, there is more need than ever before to use MADS to protect from drone attacks at airports or anywhere else. For more information on the system, or to speak to one of our team, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us directly on +44 (0) 330 111 7177.