Counter-UAS companies comment on Gatwick Airport drone incident

By Patrick C. Miller | January 01, 2019

DroneShield and Dedrone—two leading manufacturers of counter-UAS technology—say the pre-Christmas drone incident at Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom that impacted nearly 140,000 travelers demonstrates why large airports need to adopt drone countermeasures.

DroneShield Ltd.—which has locations in Sydney, Australia, and Warrenton, Virginia—makes the DroneSentinal to detect, identify and monitor drones and the DroneGun, used by law enforcement and military agencies to jam and force down drones. The company has a network of 60 distributors in about 50 countries.

DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornick said, “We expect that this latest incident involving a major airport will result in airports and other civil infrastructure users around the world accelerating their implementation of drone mitigation measures.”

According to DroneShield, several important lessons can be learned from the events at Gatwick. Drone misuse is a universal problem and inaction is not an option, according to the company. “Many purported drone mitigation products are concepts in development and have not been deployed at all or have only been tested in a narrow range of situations or controlled environments,” DroneShield stated.

In addition, DroneShield noted that the cost of countermeasures isn’t a predictor of their performance. Media reports indicated that systems costing up to $26 million were deployed to deal with the rogue drones at Gatwick Airport, but the drone problems persisted for nearly two days, the company explained.

Dedrone Inc. has offices in Kassel, Germany, San Francisco and the Washington, D.C. area. The company’s RF-100 sensors and DroneTracker software provide a layered approach to detecting, classifying and protecting against drone threats. Its technology can also include passive and active countermeasures. Dedrone’s technology has been used by government, military and private organizations worldwide to protect facilities and events.

In a statement issued after the incident at Gatwick Airport, Dedrone said international and U.S. airports have been slow to adopt counter-UAS technologies. “This lag will only become increasingly more dangerous as more incidents occur without a federal agency acting on a solution to allow airports to be proactive with monitoring drone activity in their airspace,“ the statement said.

Dedrone noted that in 2018, it installed drone detection technology at four undisclosed airports across the UK to identify and analyze drone activity. But Gatwick—Britain’s second busiest airport—was not among them. The four airports relied on Dedrone technology to determine if they had drone incursions and, if so, decide whether to deploy a counter-drone solution to protect their operations. Drone activity was monitored at four locations for a total of 148 days, and 285 drones were detected.

The company said its data “provides unrefuted evidence of the presence of drones at airports.” In addition, Dedrone said “airport operators must consider how to approach drone safety measures and determine the additional risks that drones pose to their overall security program.”

Based on the information gathered for its study, Dedrone concluded: “All drones near airports are a threat, regardless of the pilot’s intention. Airport managers must be proactive in protecting their operations from incursions.”