Counter drone technology is more advanced than ever. And it’s a growing hazard to the civil aviation industry. Anything that can fly in the sky is a potential threat to airspace, and in recent years, many airports have had to increase their drone detection capabilities.
The Growing Drone Threat
Despite strict regulations on drone flights in protected airspace, incidents do happen. In 2018, unauthorised drone activity shut down Gatwick Airport for 36 hours, cancelling and grounding hundreds of flights.
This had significant reputational and financial repercussions for the airport and airlines. And caused havoc to customers flying during the busy Christmas period.
Drones can cause significant damage to commercial aircraft, too.
While they vary greatly in size and design, the average consumer drone has a wingspan of 30cm and weighs slightly less than 2kg. Even an object of this size can damage an aircraft.
In one simulation measuring the impact of a drone strike on a commercial aircraft, it was estimated that a drone can cause more structural damage to an aircraft than birds of the same mass and velocity.
What You Need to Know About Airport Drone Detection
So, how do airports mitigate the drone threat? Airport drone detection solutions, such as drone detection radar, have become pivotal to preventing serious incidents.
But no one drone detection solution can do it all. Airports require the right combination of passive and active solutions. Here’s why.
1. Distinguishing Between Drones and Other Objects
Few drone detection solutions can distinguish between small, fast-moving objects. And identifying whether an object is a drone, bird, or something else is critical.
Accurate classification can prevent events like false alarms and save ground teams time trying to out what the object is. When it comes to an airport environment, accurate classification can help you avoid costly shutdowns, flight delays, and more. It's important to find an airport drone detection solution that can do this.
2. Tracking Threats in Real-time
Drone detection alone isn't enough. You must be able to determine if the threat is credible and track it accurately. If the threat is genuine, you can determine the nature and severity of the threat, all while tracking its activity.
Airport drone detection solutions, like advanced micro-doppler radar, accurately track drone activity in any condition. This provides coverage during any time, day or night, and in any weather condition. A micro-doppler radar can also automatically distinguish between drones and other airborne threats, like birds. With this information, your security team can instantly get the information they need and monitor the threat.
3. Understanding Intent
Drones have many uses. For airport security teams, an effective drone detection radar must identify the intent of a potential drone threat. For example, a drone might be a delivery parcel drone that has gone on a wayward journey and into the vicinity of your airport. Or, it could be an autonomous drone that's unknowingly disrupting your airspace while following the 'return to home' function.
Critically, if a drone user is intentionally disrupting your operations, identifying and classifying the incident as early as possible will help your airport security teams act quicker.
4. Neutralising Drone Threats
The right airport drone detection solution will better prepare you to neutralise a drone threat, if one were to occur.
When you know what you're dealing with and are accurately monitoring the potential threat, your airport security teams can react appropriately. This might be by using a drone mitigation solution or taking appropriate action in your airport, such as halting flights.
Airports Need State-of-the-art Drone Detection Technology
Drones can have a significant impact on airport operations. So you need an airport drone detection solution that keeps pace with detecting the latest drone technology.
Luckily, the right solution doesn't need to be complex or expensive. Much like drone technology itself is more attainable and affordable than ever, so are drone detection systems. They can help you secure your airport and mitigate any potential threats.
Drone detection radar is an effective solution for airports looking to secure their airspace. With easy-to-use interfaces, fast-tracking, and 360° degree coverage, they provide fully automatic drone detection to keep your airport protected, 24/7.