An estimated 7 million drones will be flying in the skies by 2020; Claudia Cowan reports on the new technology being developed to keep airports safe. But some people either don't care or use drones to intentionally disrupt airport operations. Last December, drone sightings at London's Gatwick Airport forced a three-day shutdown, and canceled flights left thousands of stranded passengers scrambling. No one has been arrested in the case, and this past April, investigators said it could have been an inside job. In recent months, suspected or confirmed drone activity has grounded flights in Dubai, New Zealand, Israel, and at Newark Airport in New Jersey.
Several international airlines were diverting planes from flying over the Strait of Hormuz and parts of Iran on Friday, a day after the Iranian military shot down an American surveillance drone and the United States went to the brink of launching a retaliatory strike. The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order early Friday that prohibited all American flights in Tehran-controlled airspace above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman because of "heightened military activities and increased political tensions." The agency said that flight operations in the area were prohibited "until further notice." United Airlines said in a statement that after a security assessment, it had suspended flights between Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Mumbai, India, that typically fly through Iranian airspace. The German airline Lufthansa said in an emailed statement that its planes would not fly over the Strait of Hormuz and that the diversion area was likely to expand.
Detectives have launched an investigation after three drones disrupted flights at an airport during a nearby music festival. Leicestershire police said a pilot of one of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had been interviewed by officers after it was reported to police at 9.30am on Saturday near the Download festival at Donington Park. Two further drones were reported inside the restricted airspace at East Midlands airport at midnight and on Sunday at 1.30pm. Flights were delayed at the airport as a result of the drones. Police said they had carried out inquiries in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority and East Midlands airport.
LONDON - Climate activists from Extinction Rebellion have drawn up plans to use drones to shut London's Heathrow Airport this summer in a campaign to stop the construction of a third runway at Europe's busiest airport, the group said. The internal proposal, seen by Reuters, emerged against a backdrop of renewed campaigning by environmental groups who argue that expanding Heathrow would be incompatible with Britain's targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions. "On June 18, we plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow Authorities close the airport for the day, to create a'pause' in recognition of the genocidal impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, upon the natural world," Extinction Rebellion said in a statement late on Thursday. "This is not about targeting the public, but holding the Government to their duty to take leadership on the climate and ecological emergency," the group said. Heathrow Airport said the use of drones would be a "reckless action."
Similar to the growth in the number of vehicles in an urban area, the number of aircraft and the passengers they ferry, are in a phase of constant growth. Globally, the number of aircraft is expected to double from the base year of 2015 up to 2035. Since there are only limited number of airports and limited amount of space in each airport, this implies that each aircraft movement on the ground needs to be efficiently handled for faster turnaround. Faced with the pressure of managing multiple cost heads, airlines are now outsourcing their airport ground handling and cargo management services to specialist companies, and focusing on their core competence. While growth trends in passenger volumes tend to follow macroeconomic fundamentals, the growth in aircraft turnarounds are more immune to such highs and lows.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A Yemen rebel drone strike this week on a critical Saudi oil pipeline shows that the otherwise-peaceful sandy reaches of the Arabian Peninsula now are at risk of similar assault, including an under-construction nuclear power plant and Dubai International Airport, among the world's busiest. U.N. investigators said the Houthis' new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 km (930 miles). That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two main opponents of the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, within reach of drones difficult to detect and track. Their relatively simple design, coupled with readily available information online, makes targeting even easier, analysts say. "These installations are easily findable, like on Google Earth," said Tim Michetti, an expert on illicit weapons technology with experience in Yemen.
Can this paper packaging go into the recycle bin? Where should this bubble wrap go? A robot at YVR can now answer these questions for you. Most people try their best to recycle and it can often be a confusing process, which is why Vancouver International Airport recently introduced an artificial intelligence (AI) sensor that oversees a cluster of smart waste bins at a central location within the terminal building. This AI, called Oscar, has an artificial intelligence powered camera that automatically identifies recycling from trash and instructs users on whether it belongs in the compost bin, paper bin, or landfill stream bin.
The drone attack that brought Gatwick airport to a standstill last December could have been an "inside job", according to police, who said the perpetrator may have been operating the drone from within the airport. Sussex police told BBC Panorama that the fact an insider may have been behind the attack was "treated as a credible line of enquiry from the earliest stages of the police response". Gatwick's chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, believes the perpetrator was familiar with the airport's operational procedures and had a clear view of the runway or possibly infiltrated its communication network. "It was clear that the drone operators had a link into what was going on at the airport," he told Panorama, in his first interview since the incident. He said the culprit had carefully picked a drone that would remain undetected by the airport's DJI Aeroscope detection system being tested at the time.
The drone attack that caused chaos at Gatwick before Christmas was carried out by someone with knowledge of the airport's operational procedures, the airport has said. A Gatwick chief told BBC Panorama the drone's pilot "seemed to be able to see what was happening on the runway". Sussex Police told the programme the possibility an "insider" was involved was a "credible line" of inquiry. About 140,000 passengers were caught up in the disruption. The runway at the UK's second busiest airport was closed for 33 hours between 19 and 21 December last year - causing about 1,000 flights to be cancelled or delayed.
As a little girl Khadijah Ismail would spend hours watching aeroplanes through the window of the attic bedroom she shared with her sister near Manchester Airport. She even wrote the airport a letter "on fancy paper and everything", giving her address and asking them to send more planes past her house. The eldest of four children, Khadijah loved maths and got a scholarship to a highly academic private day school. Her mum and dad hoped she would be the first in the family with a university degree. At 16 she won a prestigious Arkwright Engineering Scholarship and put the award, of several hundred pounds, towards buying a robot for her school.