The Gatwick airport has received a ton of flack, controversy, and problems over drones at the end of last year. The airport somehow managed to pull off flight delays, security problems, and even a witch-hunt among the passengers. All this chaos that put the spotlight on the airport for weeks, and with but a single drone behind it all for the blame. With international scrutiny breathing down their necks, they had to come up with a solution to show.
The Heathrow airport, also in the United Kingdom, also had their fair share of problems regarding drones. Over the past year, Heathrow has played host to numerous drone encounters and sightings. These incidents caused near misses with incoming and outgoing planes alike. Similar to Gatwick’s incident, Heathrow’s multiple drone scares led to flight delays, cancellations, and many other obstructions.
Britain’s Drone Problem
It seems in Britain alone, drones are such a menace that they have opened to possibility of extending drone regulations. The one-kilometer ban for instance, which prohibits civilian drones from flying a kilometer from airports, may receive some amendments. Some suggest extending the ban to five kilometers from airports, which may help prevent collision between drones and planes.
However, all this seems to stem from a very small percentage of drone owners. These irresponsible flyers put the name of everyone involved in a bad light. If you think about it, extending the distance does not directly solve the problem – an irresponsible drone owner not following the rules.
Looking at it from an outsider’s perspective, it may seem like a lot of fuss for a singular drone spotting. However, it can be a grim scenario if perfect circumstances take place. A single drone can fly hundreds of feet into the air without any problems. Most can fly twenty to thirty minutes at a time without recharging. These drones can reach air spaces that before, only passenger planes occupy. This increases the risk of collisions.
The Looming Threat Above
Passenger planes usually have hundreds of people onboard – including the pilot and crew. A single drone, perfectly positioned in a way that it hits a wing or an engine, can bring the entire thing down. Hundreds of people on board are at risk every single time a drone flies in restricted areas along airport territories.
This drone-plane collision threat is not only limited to the airport and its surrounding areas. In worst-case scenarios, a drone taking down a plane can add more casualties if it occurs above a civilian-populated area. Not only will the passengers aboard the plane be in danger, but the thousands living below the flight path as well.
With a far-reaching range, recreational drones can be fun – but also dangerous in improperly trained hands. That is why rules exist – to be followed for the safety of everyone around the drone.
A Solution in the Making
With Gatwick and Heathrow at the forefront of Britain’s drone incidents, a solution may be in the works. Drone jammers, along with other anti-drone equipment may soon arrive at these airports. This military-grade equipment can hopefully track down drones and bring them down before any collision takes place.
These drone jammers do not in fact destroy drones. They merely take control away from the owner, so they can bring the drone down to the ground on their own. Hijacking controls mean that any unexpected move from drones never happen during close encounters with planes. Anti-drone equipment can be in the form of ‘rifle’ shaped jamming equipment that one can point at a drone’s location. Another form of these newer technology is a barrier creator. How it works is, if drones enter a specific radius, they go down automatically. Their controls disabled, they pose no more threat to the surrounding area.
The Rise of Drone Jammers
This particular barrier technology has seen use in the film industry, where drones are notorious for taking snapshots of scenes. These tend to circulate online as spoilers that reveal key events and moments before filming even finishes. With the drone barrier, drones cannot enter an area of filming, and thus preserving the secrets for the film’s release.
The filming of the final season in Game of Thrones utilized these barriers to prevent drones from spying on the set. Hopefully, using the same technology, airports can have a more secure perimeter around them. This is quite the move, mind you. Heathrow and Gatwick, along with other airports in Britain, rumored to have placed millions of funding into this anti-drone effort.