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The global COVID-19 pandemic crippled industries across the world. But few were worse hit than the aviation industry. With sweeping travel bans, border closures, and lockdowns, travel ground to a decisive halt. 

As we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, airlines are broadening their focus and looking for avenues of protection against other, more pertinent airborne threats. Bird and drone strikes have always posed a threat to aircraft, but the frequency of related incidents is increasing. 

So, what are the barriers to investment in cutting-edge technology that prevents these threats from happening? 

Barriers to Investing in Aviation Radar Systems

The main barriers to investment in aviation radar systems are:

  • Considerable upfront investment
  • Lower budgets due to COVID-19
  • Securing stakeholder buy-in 

Let's explore these objections in more detail. 

1. Large Upfront Investment

The large upfront commitment of capital is what makes many airlines reluctant to invest in aviation radar systems. While it's true that powerful radar systems don't come cheap, the in-depth insights, strike risk prevention technology, and consistent monitoring more than make up for the expense in the long run. 

For example, the 2018 Gatwick drone incident cost the airport and airlines £50 million. Around 1,000 flights were cancelled and 140,000 passengers were left on the ground. The disruption was caused by several small drones occupying nearby airspace. With no way to track or monitor them, or measure how the threat was developing, the airport was forced to bring operations to a grinding halt. 

Gatwick now employs drone detection and tracking equipment, so they're better equipped to deal with any future threat of rogue drones in their airspace. With drones increasing in popularity and decreasing in price, being protected and prepared with equipment like specialised radar ensures that if a situation occurs, you're covered. 

2. Reduced Budgets Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 hit the aviation industry hard. Last year marked the end of a decade of consistent growth in global passenger traffic. Cancelled flights, travel bans, and lockdowns all played a part in damaging the aviation sector, forcing airports around the world to a standstill. This resulted in estimated revenue losses of $370 billion.

Although the impact of COVID-19 was devastating airlines are recovering and bouncing back from low passenger numbers. Countries are beginning to open their borders to foreign travel again, and we expect to see a surge in travel from the latter quarter of 2021. 

However, with reduced short-term budgets, many airport operators remain reluctant to invest in new technology like radars, even though they can generate valuable data and cost-savings in the long run.

While COVID-19 has proved to be the biggest disrupter to airport travel in the past two years, birds and drones will continue to be a threat long after the pandemic has subsided. In fact, COVID19 has even caused wildlife and related drone incidents to increase, so making an investment in aviation radar systems is essential. 

3. Securing Stakeholder Buy-in

Securing stakeholder buy-in can be one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome when seeking financial approval for aviation radar systems. There are usually four main hurdles you need to be aware of. 

1. Sense of Urgency

The importance of keeping airports safe from bird strikes is broadly recognised by governments, regulators and the aviation community. But with so many stakeholders involved, the need for action is clear, but roles and responsibilities are not, which limits the speed new technology is adopted. 

2. Lack of Knowledge

Many airports choose a more holistic approach, often driven by liability questions, and seem less interested in taking concrete technology-driven countermeasures. Aviation radar systems can drastically reduce risks, giving airports the tools they need to actively manage the threat, rather than react when it's too late. There are knowledge gaps to fill, with acknowledgement needed that new and developing threats have made radar systems a necessity, rather than a luxury.  

3. Recouping Investment

Many find it difficult to estimate the serious damage bird and drone incidents can cause to both finances and reputation. And this can make some stakeholders reluctant to invest in new technology like avian radar systems. 

4. The Drone Threat

Drones continue to dominate the headlines, with high-profile incidents causing millions in damages to major airports like Gatwick. But while drone use continues to increase, in reality, bird strikes are a lot more common. Authorities are yet to realise the benefits that a dedicated avian radar system can have in protecting airports from the threat of both birds and drones. 

Advanced radars are becoming the safety standard at airports. A network of bird, drone and multi-purpose radars, help to merge all data into one picture. With flight numbers picking up in an increasingly complex safety and security environment, now is the time to start replacing outdated manual detection and using new innovative solutions.

How New Pricing Models Can Help


In response to the challenging economic climate, many radar manufacturers have adjusted their pricing models. This is to remove some of the hurdles and anxieties around purchasing radar systems, making the process much more accessible. 

With new pricing models, you can access the crucial data and monitoring you need without having to worry about large upfront costs, budget concerns, or wary stakeholders. Robin Radar offers numerous trial options and flexible pricing to suit different budgets.

New Radar as a Service (RaaS) models let you take advantage of the strategic and safety benefits of an aviation radar system, without breaking the bank. RaaS provides airports with an easy way to get started with avian radar, that can be quickly scaled up if needed.

With RaaS, there are no radars on your balance sheet, so you can take control of your bird and drone hazard issue against a monthly fee (OPEX) instead of large capital expenditure (CAPEX). This also reduces your risk, as you can opt out at any time. The data subscription includes bespoke periodical management reporting and Service & Support.

Invest in Your Airport's Future 


Aviation radar systems help airports remain safe and protect them from the growing threat of birds and drones. With these threats predicted to increase over the coming years, investing now is the only way to ensure you're ready for the threat of tomorrow. 

Get in touch today to discuss how we can help you find the right radar for your specific needs.