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Smart Thinking About Drones At Airports

Six months after London’s Gatwick Airport shut down because of reported drone sightings, there is still no publicly available, independent proof that a rogue drone ever flew over the airport. But the magnitude of the response showed how unprepared many airports are to respond to a drone sighting and protect public safety while minimizing public disruption.

Today, a task force studying how airports should respond to drones issued its first early recommendations – and DJI is pleased to see they reflect detailed research and smart thinking. The Blue Ribbon Task Force on UAS Mitigation at Airports, a joint project of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), is taking a methodical and fact-based approach to a subject too often driven by fear, speculation, and inaccurate reporting. You can read the report here.

Many of the Task Force recommendations echo features DJI has already implemented that greatly reduce the likelihood of unauthorized drone incursions at airports – including geofencing, our educational Knowledge Quiz, AeroScope remote identification, and our newly-announced commitment to install AirSense ADS-B receivers in all new drone models weighing more than 250 grams, which we will introduce next year.

The Task Force also calls for many of the same steps as are found in our Elevating Safety white paper on drone safety, including requiring mandatory Remote ID technology, knowledge testing for new drone operators, and rigorous enforcement of existing laws against unsafe drone operation near airports.

It may never be known whether the Gatwick incident was a deliberate attempt to use drones to interfere with aviation, or a textbook case of mass hysteria. That makes the Task Force’s work even more important, as it jump-starts an evidence-based and even-handed conversation about how airports should respond to reports of drone activity, and how to protect the public while minimizing disruption.

We look forward to the Task Force’s further work to address this important issue.


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