FAA gets serious about protecting airplanes from rogue drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced a new plan under its Airport Unmanned Aircraft Systems Detection and Mitigation Research Program that will evaluate new systems and various technologies intended to protect airplanes from drones. According to the agency, it will analyze at least 10 of these systems starting later this year.

A number of close calls and minor collisions have increased concerns about the potential threat of rogue drones when operated too close to airports. Though this airspace is off-limits, some drone operators still send their drones into these hot zones either out of a lack of awareness of the regulations or simple disregard for them.

We’ve seen a number of technologies proposed as potential solutions for this problem, including enabling airports to better spy these drones, wireless systems designed to disrupt a drone’s ability to receive commands, and even more primitive solutions like shooting nets at drones to knock them out of the sky.

The FAA plans to get involved in this budding industry, announcing last week that it plans to evaluate numerous options that will potentially equip airports with a way to deal with these unwanted drones. The evaluations will kick off at the agency’s William J. Hughes Technical Center near the Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, the FAA said in its statement.

Following that initial testing, the FAA then plans to expand its evaluation to another four US airports, though it hasn’t yet revealed which ones will be chosen. The FAA is accepting proposals from vendors, manufacturers, and others that have developed systems for detecting and mitigating drone threats; they have 45 days to get in touch with the agency.

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