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September 16, 2021

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Counter-drone technology deployed in UK airports to protect from airspace threat

The disruption and potential security issues unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs – or drones) can cause transport hubs became clear following the events that took place at Gatwick airport in December 2018. Now, several airports in the UK have implemented anti-drone solutions from Dedrone in an attempt to combat this threat and better protect their airspace. IFSEC Global reports on two such examples.

Protecting Perth Airport

Designed for small and light aircraft aviation, Perth airport in Scotland is home to the ACS Flight Training for commercial and private fixed wing aircrafts, as well as Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

In July 2020, the potential threat of UAVs became clear, after a pilot observed drone activity in the area, culminating in a near-miss with a light aircraft. Following the incident, the airport conducted an airspace risk assessment with Dedrone to better understand the scope of their unauthorised drone activity and prevent further incursions from happening.

Two sensors and tracker software were installed for six months in late 2020, where 42 drones in total were spotted within a 5km radius of the airport, violating CAA Flight Restriction Zone rules. Automatic alerts were provided to air traffic controllers, so they could be immediately apprised of any intrusions and adjust operations and security staff as required.

Perth Airport now has data-driven evidence of activity, including times flown, duration, type of drone and location. It is now using this to build out an airspace security programme, based on a foundation of confirmed drone sightings and analytics.

Graeme Frater, ACS Director AT Perth Airport, commented: “After experiencing drone incursions at Perth Airport, we realized we needed to take a proactive approach to understand our local drone activity and ensure a rogue or unwanted drone did not threaten our operations’ continuity. Dedrone’s airspace security technology provided us awareness of our drone activity. With Dedrone, Perth Airport can detect drone activity, understand our airspace, and protect our flight programmes from any harm.”


READ: Post-COVID drone activity urges need for smart airspace security programmes


Reducing the airspace risk at Newcastle Airport

In response to the aforementioned Gatwick airport incident, the Newcastle Airport security team worked to educate the local public against flying near its airfield. Before working on the campaign however, the team wanted to understand the current risks of drone incursions, so approached Dedrone to install its CPNI-approved detection technology.

The solutions now allow Newcastle Airport to understand drone usage, including the location of any nearby drone activity, the types of devices flown and which times of day they appear. From this, the security team has created a standard response protocol, allowing for them to prepare and rehearse their drone intervention response to prevent disruption should a drone approach.

Richard Knight, COO at the airport, commented: “Following the Gatwick Airport shutdown in 2018, Newcastle Airport understood that unauthorised drones were an eventuality that we needed to plan for. Dedrone’s success supporting UK international airports, as well as their technology validation from CPNI, made them a natural choice to protect our operations. With Dedrone, Newcastle Airport can be alerted of any impending drone incursions, protect passengers and operations from drone-based disruptions, and continue to be the number one international gateway of choice for travellers to and from North East England.”

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