zones would not prevent deliberate attempts to interfere
with airfeld operations. Tere have been no arrests made
in connection with the Gatwick incident, which police
believe was an intentional efort to disrupt fights.
Tere have been complaints that the UK government
was warned of precisely such occurrences by specialists
brought in to look at the problem some years ago but
failed to heed their concerns.
Te Gatwick incident was resolved when the UK
armed forces installed military counter-drone equipment at the airport, but the UK defense secretary has
since said the country’s airports cannot rely on the military stepping in if future incidents arise—a clear warning that airports should invest in their own solutions.
For its part, London Gatwick said in the immediate
aftermath of the disruption that it did not have a counter-drone system in place at the time because there was
no proven system available. Te airport later “invested
several million pounds to ensure it is equipped to the
level provided by the armed forces, and this was in place
within days of the main drone incident,” a spokesperson said in January.
“Airports continuously review the measures they take
to keep air trafc safe. In light of events at Gatwick and
Heathrow, airports are working closely together to see
what lessons can be learnt,” UK Airport Operators As-
sociation chief executive Karen Dee told ATW. “Tis
includes reviewing the technology that is already in
use, what is available further and what deterrent action,
such as increased police patrols, can be taken.”
While welcoming the UK government’s announce-
ment of expanded no-drone areas, she said it was vital
that this be backed up with enforcement measures.
“We look forward to working with the Home Ofce
and the police on ensuring the right resources and technology is in place to support this,” she said.
Te European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is also
looking at regulatory and technological solutions.
“Preliminary assessment shows that the existing European regulations for aviation safety and the draft one
on drones are already partially addressing the issue,”
EASA told AT W.
In the future, “EASA member states will be able to
defne geographical zones where operation of drones
could be restricted, such as the airspace around the
aerodrome, and geographical awareness and electronic
identifcation systems will support operators and law
Te aviation industry is also considering its role in combating the threat. Airports Council International (ACI)
World published an advisory bulletin Jan. 28 to help
airports address the UAV problem.
ACI World said all industry stakeholders need to
work with the relevant agencies to protect the safety of
Te bulletin proposed that airports lead the discussion and work closely with national authorities and law
enforcement agencies to develop a risk-based approach
for dealing with drone incursions.
Te document suggested:
• Coordinating with national authorities on the
creation of bylaws governing the operation of
drones in the vicinity of the airport;
• Establishing means to suppress or neutralize un-
authorized drones within the airport boundary,
especially adjacent to runways and fight paths,
and agreeing on which agency was responsible
for areas outside the airport boundary; and
• Ensuring that any new anti-drone measures did
not create unintended safety hazards and unmit-
igated risks to other manned aircraft, authorized
drones and aviation infrastructures.
US FAA, meanwhile, said in mid-February it would
require drones to have a registration number displayed
on the outside. Previously, the number could be placed
in an enclosed compartment. But concerns that the
compartment could conceal an explosive device, potentially harming frst responders trying to fnd the number, prompted the rule change.
Airlines have become increasingly concerned by the
rise in close encounters with drones. One of the basic tenets of airworthiness is that an airliner should be able to
continue to fy—indeed, climb—if it loses an engine at
even the most critical point of its fight. However, losing
an engine immediately before landing or just after takeof
is not a situation any pilot wants to experience.
“Te extent of the damage a drone may have may
be considerable, not only because of the impact but
[because] of the material it is made of,” IATA said in
a statement to ATW. “IATA is now looking at how to
“The problem with the counter-drone industry is that it’s a bit of a
cottage industry.” Oleg Vornik, Droneshield