DRONES IN SPOT­LIGHT AF­TER LAT­EST AIR­PORT INCIDENT

Ex­perts look at ways to de­ter fly­ers af­ter drone shuts air­port again

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir sar­wat@7days.ae

New tech­nol­ogy may need to be in­stalled in drones to pre­vent the craft from fly­ing over air­ports and other sen­si­tive ar­eas, an avi­a­tion ex­pert has said.

Michael Her­rero, Gulf Area Man­ager at the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA), was speak­ing af­ter a drone shut down Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port for 27 min­utes yes­ter­day, lead­ing to de­lays for about 90 flights.

The cost of such a shut­down has pre­vi­ously been es­ti­mated to be a mil­lion dol­lars per minute to the econ­omy. Airspace was closed from 8.08am to 8.35am and there was dis­rup­tion un­til 9.10am, Dubai Air­ports said. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing. Her­rero said in­stalling black boxes in­side drones and set­ting up tech­nol­ogy near air­ports that can de­tect drone fre­quen­cies are some of the ways to pre­vent the craft from en­ter­ing sen­si­tive airspace. Some coun­tries, in­clud­ing the US, have al­ready gone fur­ther, in­stalling ‘ge­ofenc­ing’ tech­nol­ogy that phys­i­cally stops the drone from fly­ing. Her­rero added: “Any­one can buy a drone in the UAE. It’s not that dif­fi­cult. “And the peo­ple who are buy­ing the drones, es­pe­cially for leisure ac­tiv­i­ties, are not even aware of the no-fly zones that have been set up by reg­u­la­tors.” Her­rero said that even though the au­thor­i­ties have brought in manda­tory reg­is­tra­tion and no-fly zones – Dubai In­ter­na­tional is one of four – the rules are hard to en­force. He said: “There is the trial of in­stalling black boxes in­side drones that is be­ing done. “This would mean air­ports would be able to de­tect any drones that are near the area. There are also other tech­nolo­gies that are be­ing tested which would be able to de­tect drone fre­quen­cies.” Saj Ah­mad, Chief An­a­lyst at Strate­gic Aero Re­search, said there has to be more aware­ness of the con­se­quences and tougher penal­ties. Ah­mad said: “Pro­lif­er­a­tion of and the de­creas­ing costs of drones is the prime rea­son why in­cur­sions like this hap­pen. “And with the ur­ban liv­ing dis­tricts so close to Dubai In­ter­na­tional, the risk of col­li­sions with the airspace in­creases all the time. “Puni­tive sanc­tions are a must oth­er­wise fines will just be some­thing peo­ple pay and still flout the law any­way.” Reuters re­ported that tougher laws are be­ing pre­pared to make own­er­ship more dif­fi­cult. Mo­hammed Faisal Al Dos­sari, Di­rec­tor of Air Nav­i­ga­tion and Aero­dromes at the Gen­eral Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity, told Reuters the laws would cover im­ports, sales and per­for­mance of drones.

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