Drone incursions have become increasingly frequent at airports worldwide, and the industry must identify and implement methods of preventing such incidents, Eurocontrol said after a workshop earlier this month to examine the threat of unauthorized drone flights near airports.
The number of drone incursions at airports is increasing “almost exponentially, with no reversal trend in sight,” Eurocontrol said in a statement describing the early October meeting.
“Keeping airports secure by protecting them from unauthorised unmanned aircraft has become a key priority for the aviation community at large and airports specifically,” Eurocontrol said. “A drone operating in close proximity to an airport, accidentally or deliberately, is a safety hazard that requires an appropriate and immediate response.”
The workshop, held at Eurocontrol’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, drew 200 stakeholders from throughout the aviation community.
Iacopo Prissinotti, Eurocontrol’s director of network management, told the opening session that the workshop had three goals — “to reach a common understanding of what is considered as a drone threat; … to outline the ongoing technology developments that are needed to prevent, detect and neutralise unauthorised unmanned aircraft systems; and … to find mutual agreement so that we can avoid future disruptions from unwanted drone activities at or around airports.”
Workshop participants agreed that future actions would focus in part on increasing awareness of the need for counter-drone measures, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of those involved; and improving risk-assessment methods.
In addition, Eurocontrol said, participants called for implementing counter-drone measures, including operational procedures and technical solutions, that can be coordinated with the existing infrastructure; developing an estimate of the costs of deploying counter-drone measures; and creating “a roadmap for an integrated approach to counter rogue drones at airports.”
Several methods are relatively far along, including development by the Airports Council International of a concept of operations, Eurocontrol said. “However,” the organization added, “there is still confusion about the scope of the counter-drone challenge and a pressing need for a clear and comprehensive description of the challenge that will permit a requirements specification for countermeasures to be developed.”
Eurocontrol said it would conduct a number of bilateral meetings with those involved in the effort and issue a progress report before the end of February 2020.