Aviation agencies, law enforcement charged to protect aircraft and airports from drones

Captain Muhtar Usman, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority

All airport industry stakeholders have been charged to work with the relevant agencies to take action to protect the safety of aircraft operations against the risks posed by drone-related disruption to aircraft operations.

The recent disruption caused by the reported drone sightings at London Gatwick Airport and recent temporary cessation of some operations at London Heathrow Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport following reported sightings of a drone – are the most widely-publicised of a series of incidents which have created debate about the best approach to preparing for – and dealing with – drone-related issues.

Airports Council International (ACI) World recently gave the charge in its Advisory Bulletin to help airports address the risks posed by drone-related disruption to aircraft operations.

ACI’s latest Advisory Bulletin proposes that airports lead the discussion and work closely with national authorities and local law enforcement agencies to develop a risk-based approach to dealing with the risks of drone incursions. This approach should take into account the impact on aircraft operations and available mitigation measures including anti-drone actions.

“The recent drone-related disruption at airports in Europe, and their potential impact on airport safety and operations, have raised significant questions for airport operators around the world on their preparedness to handle situations like this,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said.

“The highest authority for enforcement activities and initiating anti-drone measures will clearly be the relevant national authority, such as the Civil Aviation Authority in the case of the UK, and local law enforcement agencies.

“It is incumbent on all industry stakeholders, however, to take action to protect the safety of aircraft operations in coordination with these agencies. Airport operators should be aware of national laws and regulations pertaining to drones, with an understanding that these may reside outside of civil aviation.”

The Advisory Bulletin lays out actions that an airport could take to lead the discussion with governments, regulators and law enforcement agencies to strengthen anti-drone measures and mitigations; they include:

Coordinating with national authorities on the creation of bylaws governing the operation of drones in the vicinity of the airport

Identifying geographic boundaries of “No Drone Zones” (no fly zones for drones) on and in the vicinity of the airport, especially approach and take-off flight paths

Coordinating with authorities on regulations and obtaining guidance on the requirements for airports to implement anti-drone technologies

Reviewing its assessment of the security risks associated with the malicious use of drones as part of the airport Security Risk Assessment

Establishing means to suppress/neutralize unauthorized drones within the airport boundary especially adjacent to runways and flight paths, and agreeing which agency is responsible for areas outside the airport boundary or not on the airport operator

Ensuring that any new anti-drone measures do not create unintended safety hazards and unmitigated risks to other manned aircraft, authorized drones and aviation infrastructures, and

Establishing a Concept of Operations and Standard Operating Procedure for anti-drone measures based on advice from the national authorities.

ACI World has requested that members share their experience and lessons learnt on anti-drone measures and drone related incidents so that relevant practices can be adopted across the industry

 

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