How Australia’s airports are safeguarding against Gatwick-style fiasco with drone-scanning technology that will allow police to locate owners in minutes
- Australian airports will be rolling out drone-scanning technology to fight threats
- Gatwick Airport was at a standstill after a drone was spotted in the airspace
- Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority is beefing up its security measures
Airports across Australia are rolling out new drone-scanning technology in a bid to prevent Gatwick-style aviation fiasco.
London’s second busiest airport was brought to a standstill for three days last week when a drone hovered over the airspace.
It stopped more than 1,000 flights causing travel misery for more than 14,000 passengers.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is now beefing up its security measures to combat the risk of a drone interfering with a passenger plane.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is now beefing up its security measures to combat the risk of a drone interfering with a passenger plane
From January, any drone that breaches airport exclusion zones will be scanned for serial numbers and the operator’s location.
The owner will then be tracked down, CASA spokesman Peter Gibson told Fairfax.
CASA currently has to rely on drone sightings from the public and police information.
Mr Gibson said the new technology will give them an edge in the fight to prevent a serious collision.
‘This change will give us the ability to be in a sensitive location like Tullamarine and conduct random drone checking and if we find you in that 5½-kilometre radius, we will see you and find where you are,’ Mr Gibson said.
Gatwick, London’s second busiest airport, was brought to a standstill for three days last week when a drone hovered over the airspace, stopping more than 1,000 flights and 14,000 passengers
Drones weighing more than two kilograms must be registered or the operators must be certified.
There are strict rules around drone operation in Australia. Drone’s must remain 5 ½ kilometres from airports, they must be flown more than 30 metres away from people and they cannot be flown above 120 metres from the ground.
Recreation drone users will have to complete an online safety and training course to be registered with CASA from mid-next year.
Anyone who breaches the rules could face a $10,000 fine. Drone owners could get five years behind bars if they are caught causing a hazard to an aircraft.
With the new technology, comes new responsibility, Mr Gibson said.
There are strict rules around operating a drone. They must remain 5 ½ kilometres from airports, they must be flown more than 30 metres away from people and they cannot be flown above 120 metres from the ground
‘I think we’ve been fortunate in Australia to have a robust set of regulations for a long time and because of that it’s allowed us to really develop the commercial drone sector and identify a whole bunch of safety issues that are emerging and need addressing.’
The culprit behind the Gatwick Airport chaos remains at large, as the Sussex Police are accused of bungling their probe.
They held married couple Paul and Elaine Kirk-Gait from Crawley, West Sussex for nearly two days without charge.
There were 67 sighting reports from December 19 to 21 of a drone being operated illegally around the Gatwick Airport runway in an act police described as ‘deliberate’ to disrupt the airport.
Timeline: How dangerous drone managed to shut down Gatwick
Police are hunting for the expert drone pilot who has grounded hundreds of planes coming in and out of Gatwick by flying a drone at least 50 times
Here is how the chaos has unfolded:
9pm, December 19 (UK time): Drone is first spotted by airport staff hovering near the runway causing flights to be grounded or diverted.
9.15pm: It appears again leading Gatwick bosses to believe it is a deliberate act.
9.30pm – midnight: The drone is seen at least five more times in that period
3.01am, December 20: Airport re-opens its runway after the all clear is given
3.45am: Drone is seen again and flights are again grounded
7am: Small unmanned aircraft appears again
9am: Another sighting of the drone as police start hunting perimeter of the airport
Midday: Police are unable find the drone pilot despite it appearing again at lunchtime with Gatwick saying all flights are grounded until at least 4pm
2pm: Airport admits it has ‘no idea’ when it will re-open as police struggle to find the pilot
3pm: The drone is spotted again as it buzzes across Gatwick’s runway. It was just minutes after airport bosses announced they had hoped to re-open at 4pm.
4pm: Drone spotted flying over the runway yet again.
5pm: Ministry of Defence confirms that it is using specialist equipment to seek out the drone
8pm: Gatwick tells passengers not to come to the airport on Friday as drone buzzes across terminals
8.30pm-9.30pm: Another sighting of the drone on Thursday evening
10pm: The last known sighting of the drone hours after Army is deployed
3am, Friday December 21: Airport bosses deem the airspace is clear
6am: Gatwick re-opens the runway
10.30am: Flights are taking off and landing as normal
5.10pm: The runway is closed again after another suspected sighting
10pm: Two suspects are arrested, Sussex Police announce
December 23: Sussex Police confirm two suspects arrested in conjunction with the widespread disruption of flights at Gatwick Airport through the illegal use of drones have been released without charge