Are drones a growing problem in our sky?

Airports could be equipped with technology capable of tracking and crashing drones entering their airspace, said Dan Hermansen, chief technology officer of Danish signal jammer company MyDefence.

The company has developed a drone alarm and protection system that will be installed at several major locations in Europe, including an airport. It has the potential to prevent the type of costly disruption that has recently occurred at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in London.

Why are drones a growing problem in our sky?

If you go back maybe five years, the first incidents came up. At this point, nobody really cared about the airspace below the normal flight level. So if you fly below 200 or 300 meters, nobody really cares since there is no other plane at that level unless you are near an airport.

In the past five years, regulations have been enacted in various countries to ensure that drones do not fly near airports, prisons, military facilities, or other critical infrastructure. But more and more people are using the technology. They get drones as toys for Christmas, so of course they will go out and fly them.

Is it on purpose or because people don’t know better?

In some cases, it’s just ignorance. People who do not know the rules and regulations. I think if you look at some of the recent cases in Gatwick and Heathrow (airports) this might be the case. (People) want to try their new toy and don’t know that they have to be at least one kilometer from an airport. Then someone reports a drone that flies near the airfield, causing the kind of shutdowns we saw recently.

“But there are also people who don’t care about regulations. From our point of view, this is a more worrying problem.”

How are drones used in these cases?

“Some use them for criminal acts. For example, drones are used to smuggle drugs, phones, or other things into prisons. This is a very specific use case where the pilot intentionally breaks the rules.

“There is another category in which we classify it as terrorism or harassment. We have looked at this in recent years. For example, the military is concerned about direct attacks. There are soldiers who are attacked by commercial drones that have been upgraded with grenades or other explosives.

At the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were many street bombs using improvised explosive devices or IEDs. Now that the IED is actually flying. It’s not dug in the dirt on the side of the road, but strapped to a simple drone and flown into a vehicle or a crowd.

“However, with an airport, you don’t even have to strap a bomb to the drone. You just have to fly it around. The pilot can be hidden in a tall building so no one can see it.”

How can the impact affect airports?

“There have been several airports that have been closed for drone sightings. There have been reports in the past in Dubai, Copenhagen and Heathrow in London. On these occasions, the airports have been closed for half an hour to an hour to make sure the drone has disappeared , but during the recent Gatwick incident, it was more than a day that no planes could take off. Around 900 flights were canceled and 120,000 passengers were affected. Just imagine how expensive it is. ”

Why aren’t airports better protected?

“Few airports have countermeasures or even procedures to detect and defeat drones. They have been pitifully left behind because technology has enabled people to get these things under control.”