It seems the Auckland Airport in New Zealand cannot catch a break. In 2018, it was the site of numerous drone-to-aircraft near misses. The issue came to the point where they made international news regularly. During the first month of 2019, nothing seems to have changed for the airport. Even though they had a number of incidents in the past, avoiding future accidents is not achievable. Surely, one would think, that with all these incidents occurring, they have had the time to think of a way to prevent future events.
Auckland Airport Near-Miss… Again
The most recent attack happened earlier this week. The Auckland airport received reports of a drone flying near the landing zone, which endangered incoming planes. The airport suspended operations for 15 minutes. This may not seem like a lot – but for those on schedules, it was a problem. The flight freeze affected a total of six outgoing flights before the situation resolved.
The drone reportedly hovered at 365 meters from the ground while in the area. This in itself violates drone regulations, as recreational drones owned by hobbyists can only fly up to 122 meters (400 feet). The second violation involves the drone’s location, which was near an airport’s range. Here, airspaces are much busier, accommodating more planes, jets, and helicopters than in other areas.
At the end of the day, there were no casualties or damage caused by the drone. However, it does place the airport yet again in hot water. In a place where drones seem to keep popping up and endangering passengers of aircrafts, what has the airport done? The authorities in the area have suggested an increase in the overall ban perimeter for drones. Areas in Great Britain for example wanted their own airports to have a 5-kilometer ban instead of the usual 1-kilometer.
However, seeing as drones already have 1 kilometer bans, the perimeter may not be the issue. Having a more active defense against drones may be more beneficial, instead of simply halting airport activity until it resolves on its own.