Drones seen as a ‘real and growing threat’

By Maurice Garvey

DRONES have created security and safety risks at airports in recent years – with industry leaders such as Tony Tyler (CEO International Air Transport Association) citing a “real and growing threat.”

Near misses have been reportéd between drones and aircraft in the UK and US, while Aer Lingus reportéd six cases of drones in close proximity to operating aircraft since 2015, and a close encounter at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris in April.

Baldonnell Drones June 2016

Closer to home, emergency services personnel are concerned at the potential damage drones could cause at Casement Aero-drome – with nine reportéd drone sightings near the military airfield in Baldonnel in recent times.

“Drones are becoming a real problem now for places like Baldonnel,” said one emergency services responder, who fears the damage a drone can do if it crashes down into a public space or into a jet engine.

The airport is Department of Defence property and home to the Air Corps and Garda Air Support.

Air Corps personnel reportéd eight sightings of drones in the vicinity of Casement Aerodrome in 2015, but believe a media awareness campaign by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), had a positive effect, with just one sighting in 2016.

The IAA set up a drone registration scheme, which restricts the use of drones in civil/military controlled airspace, and states they should not be closer than five kilometres from any aerodrome.

A Department of Defence spokesperson said: “The IAA has statutory responsibility under the Irish Aviation Authority Act for the regulation of aviation safety standards for civil aviation in Ireland.

“The IAA undertook a media campaign to increase public awareness of drone safety and hazards in December 2015.

"With regard to drone activity in the vicinity of the aerodrome, the Air Corps noted eight reports of such activity in 2015 and one to date in 2016. It appears that the IAA’s recent media campaign has had positive results with regard to drone airspace incursions.”

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