Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
December 20, 2018

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Wireless Access Control Report 2021

WATCH: Gatwick Airport shutdown renews calls for anti-drone technology

Hundreds of flights have been suspended at one of the UK’s busiest airports after drones were spotted over the airfield on several occasions last night and this morning.

Although the incident is not thought to be terrorism-related security experts have previously warned that lone wolf Islamic State terrorists could endanger airline passengers with drones costing less than £100.

Research funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) has found that a drone weighing 400g could smash a helicopter windscreen, while one weighing 2kg (4lbs) could seriously damage an airliner’s windscreen.

Police declined to shoot down the devices seen at Gatwick Airport because of the risk from stray bullets – but other, less dangerous anti-drone technology exists.

In May, London Southend Airport tested an anti-drone system that combines radio frequency and optical sensors to detect drones.

In 2016, the US Federal Aviation Authority trialled the Anti-UAV Defense System (Auds) system, built in a collaboration by British companies Enterprise, Chess Systems and Blighter. It uses high powered radio waves to disable drones, blocking their communication and switching them off in mid-air.

The Chinese-made Cangqin can monitor a low-altitude airspace five miles (8km) in diameter, and locate a drone three seconds after it enters the specified zone. It was trialled at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport in China in 2017.

Earlier this year, new UK laws came into force banning drones from flying above 400ft and within 1km (0.6 miles) of airport boundaries – the flouting of which could result in an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

People flying drones weighing 250g (9oz) or heavier will soon have to take an online safety test and register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

There were 117 near misses between manned aircraft and drones by November this year – up from 93 for the whole of 2017 – according to the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa).

Gatwick Airport closed for around 20 minutes in 2017 as concerns were raised that drone pilots were deliberately trying to film close encounters with aircraft.

And a drone ‘put 130 lives at risk’ after nearly hitting an aircraft approaching the airport over the summer.

In June a jumbo jet avoided crashing into a drone by just 16ft (5m) – the nearest miss in British aviation history.

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