Drones have been used for a variety of tasks ranging from aerial photography, surveying, patrolling, property security, supply drops, to missile firing. Finally, a situation has come that now uses drones to hunt drones. Call this the drone-hunting drone. Dubai Airport has been having problems with drones entering its airspace for some time now. To counter this, it is deploying a “Hunter Drone” to track down these illegal drone offenders. The airport is actually the third busiest in the world, an amazing feat for a capital city of such a small country. Unfortunately, in this year alone, the airport has been forced to shut down three times because of unauthorized drone activity entering its airspace. This created numerous annoyances for airlines and their passengers. In the most recent shutdown on October 29 that lasted around 90 minutes, 22 flights had to be diverted to other airports. Each closure, no matter how short, costs the airport up to $1 million per minute.
Dubai’s Civil Aviation Authority is now testing – and will soon deploy – a “drone hunter.” The drone aircraft is also remote controlled like other drones but has thermal and infrared imaging to detect drones that are in danger of straying into the airport’s airspace. Since trial deployments have proved successful, it will be routinely deployed by this December. It’s actually easy to track down people engaged in drone aircraft activity even if it’s affordable by many people in Dubai since only a few people have the time to engage in this activity. However, these same people want to explore how far their drone can go and so don’t realize that they may be violating the airport’s airspace, and possibly cause some damage with aircraft landing or taking off. But come to think of it, it’s also irresponsible behavior on the part of the drone user since they need to be aware where their drone is going. Logic dictates that for safety reasons a drone should never approach an airport, no matter how far. It’s a safety issue that involves not only money but also physical materials and people’s lives.
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The “drone hunter” works on simple concepts. Once it has locked on to a drone approaching the airport, the aircraft follows it back to its owner and sends the coordinates to the Dubai Police. Squad cars and response teams are then sent to apprehend the perpetrator. Resistance could mean the subject can be terminated with extreme prejudice since violation of airport airspace is a capital offence and a national security issue. Issues involving drones entering airport airspace has been increasing since 2014. In April, a drone slammed into a plane approaching London’s Heathrow Airport. In this year alone since January, 583 separate incidents involving drones were reported all over the United States. But before you conjure up images of machine gun-armed “hunter drones,” in the Netherlands, civil aviation authorities are now using trained bald eagles to swoop down and destroy rogue drones that stray into airport airspace.