First UK airport trial of a drone surveillance system takes place at London Southend

posted on 11th May 2018 by Justin Burns
First UK airport trial of a drone surveillance system takes place at London Southend

A successful trial of a ground-breaking drone surveillance system has taken place at London Southend Airport this week.

IPS IS combining its skills with the METIS Aerospace Skyperion technology to develop a suitable solution for integration into airports.

Te companies say the system not only spots drones much sooner than previously possible and allows them to be tracked, but it also identifies exactly where the operator is located (offering the possibility of them being apprehended), something which has previously been almost impossible.

Rogue drone operations are becoming an increasing issue for UK airports with upwards of three to four sightings of ‘rogue’ drones per week in the London airspace area alone.

Due to the size and colour of most drones they are very difficult to spot, however if one is sighted near the critical part of an airport operation (such as the final approach to the runway) then the only option is to completely stop operations. This most notably happened at Gatwick in July 2017, which led to delays for thousands of passengers and considerable costs to the airport.

London Southend Airport air traffic services head, Damon Knight said: “We do not have any outstanding issues with ‘rogue’ drone operations at London Southend, but we have had some sightings near the airport which fortunately have not affected our operations.

“However, we recognise that there is a wider problem for the aviation industry and so as an airport we have been very involved in understanding how we can deal with the issue and helping to explore ways to co-ordinate drone activity in the existing aviation operational framework.”

He added “After being introduced to IPS and METIS and witnessing a live demonstration of their drone surveillance system we recognised the huge potential of the system for the whole aviation industry and so therefore invited both companies to undertake a trial in an operational environment here at London Southend.”

The purpose of the week-long trial was to demonstrate and test the ability of the IPS-METIS SKYPERION Solution to monitor, detect, track and record the activity of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) – better known as drones, in the vicinity of London Southend Airport.

A series of ‘tame’ drones were deployed near the airport in order to test how the equipment worked in an ‘as live’ situation. The equipment involves two airfield sensors which offer 360-degree coverage up to 4kms – in all weathers, 24 hours a day – feeding back real-time information to a control ‘station’ located with the air traffic control team.

IPS IS chairman, Ansar Ali said We are delighted with the success of the trial and we look forward to working with users, regulators and other stakeholders in further developing the system, in order to provide enhanced safety, security and business continuity at airfields and other critical locations.”

Stobart Aviation is the owner of London Southend Airport and chief executive officer, Glyn Jones, added the airport is delighted this week has been a success and looks forward to seeing where this project goes next.