DRONES IN SPOTLIGHT AFTER LATEST AIRPORT INCIDENT
Experts look at ways to deter flyers after drone shuts airport again
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.