Posted by SDD Contributor on November 24, 2019 at 5:01 am
Revealed: ‘Commercial‘ drone that came within 22 yards of an Airbus coming into Heathrow was one of 120 near misses in the last 12 months as the airport finally deploys new technology to combat the gadgets
The AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System), pictured, is able to detect, track and ground drones and has been designed to stop them being used for terrorist, espionage or other malicious activities
A large ‘commercial drone‘ that came within 22 yards of an Airbus was one of 120 near misses in the last year – as Heathrow airport finally deploys new technology to combat the gadgets.
The number of near misses between drones and aircraft were up 29 per cent from 2017 – where just 93 were recorded. While in 2014 just six incidents were recorded.
Now an anti-drone system has been placed on top of a commercial vehicle at Heathrow in a bid to stop the rising tide of drone related incidents.
Over a drone sighting at Gatwick led to 120,000 passengers unable to take off or land at the airport.
Passengers were stuck on planes for several hours and were forced to sleep on floors inside the airport as flights were cancelled between December 19 and 21.
While on January 8 this year flights halted for almost 90 minutes at Heathrow Airport after a drone was spotted at around 5.05pm.
Travel experts estimated that around 40 flights were delayed in the shutdown, with Scotland Yard later confirming that ‘military assistance [had] been implemented‘ to bring the incident to an end.
Now details of 18 of near misses in the past year have been revealed by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB).
Four of those investigated by the UKAB involved airliners which were approaching the west London hub.
A pilot of an Airbus A380 spotted a large ‘commercial drone‘ pass along the right side of the aircraft within 20 metres at an altitude of 3,400 feet.
The UKAB assessed that the drone was being flown in a way which was ‘endangering other aircraft‘ and concluded that the incident on July 22 last year involved the highest risk of collision.
Another category A near miss featured an Embraer 190 aircraft at an altitude of 800 feet as it was coming into land at Glasgow Airport on September 7.
A ‘shiny white drone‘ was flown immediately above the plane at just 15-30 metres away.
The UKAB concluded that a ‘definite risk of collision had existed‘.
Now Heathrow Airport hopes a new anti-drone system will help combat the increasing number of issues it is having with drones.
The AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System) is able to detect, track and ground drones and has been designed to stop them being used for terrorist, espionage or other malicious activities.
Similar equipment has been pictured on the roof of Gatwick‘s South Terminal.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: ‘Heathrow has always worked closely with the Government and Metropolitan Police to monitor and mitigate against threats to the airport, including the irresponsible use of drones.
‘In the interests of safety, we do not comment on issues relating to security at the airport.‘
Assessments of 18 near misses with drones between July and October were included in the UKAB‘s latest monthly report.
Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said: ‘The actions of these drone users were not only irresponsible, but illegal.
‘The law could not be clearer that this is a criminal offence and anyone endangering others in this way faces imprisonment.‘
Existing rules for drone users include not flying near airports, staying below 400 feet and flying at least 50 metres away from buildings and people.
Last week, the Government announced a package of measures designed to give police extra powers to combat drones.
The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately a 5km-radius (3.1 miles), with additional extensions from runway ends.
Ministers also announced that from November 30, operators of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg will be required to register and take an online drone pilot competency test.