Dublin Airport cleared to use anti-drone technology – The Irish Times

Dublin Airport operator DAA has been given clearance to use anti-drone technology and now has the legal right to jam their frequencies or even take them down.

Drone incursions at the airport last spring disrupted flights and delayed thousands of passengers, prompting the DAA to invest in new equipment and train fire service staff in how to use it. However, the airport authority needed approval from the communications regulator, ComReg, before it could deploy the technology.

A spokesman for the regulator said: “Following some amendments to legislation by the Government earlier this summer, ComReg provided DAA, in June, with a licence to operate the device.”

The amendments were done by way of statutory instrument, which are regulations issued by ministers. They included a change to the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1926, the primary legislation.

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan has added a subsection making it lawful for the DAA or its agents “to work or use a radio frequency jammer at Dublin Airport to interfere with the working of, or otherwise injuriously affect, any UAS [unmanned aircraft system]” where it believes this is necessary to ensure public safety.

Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney signed a statutory instrument allowing the DAA or its agents at Dublin Airport to interfere with the operation of drones, and use “equipment to control such aircraft remotely, for the purpose of ensuring the safety of civil aviation or public safety”.

A spokesperson for the DAA said: “We acted quickly in response to the Government’s direction on this matter and, following the purchase of counter-drone equipment, the training of relevant personnel and having recently received the necessary approvals, the anti-drone technology is fully operational and available for use as and when required.

“We remind all drone users that it is illegal to operate a drone within five kilometres of any Irish airport.”

The agency has had drone-detection equipment for some time but, unlike many other big European airports, did not have the legal right to take down unmanned aircraft when they trespassed into the safety zone around Dublin Airport. As a result, there were severe disruptions to flights in February and March after drone incursions.

At one point Ryanair said that flights had to be suspended six times in six weeks due to the disruption and called on Mr Ryan to resign if he could not fix the issue. The Minister rejected claims that all that was required was to give the DAA the go-ahead to use technology. “It’s not as simple as Michael O’Leary says,” Mr Ryan told RTÉ in March.

DAA initially called for new legislation and a State agency to be responsible for managing counter-drone technology.

It was originally thought that primary legislation would have to be changed in order allow the DAA to use its counter-drone technology. But last March, Minister of State for Transport Jack Chambers said he had been informed by the Attorney General that there might only be a requirement for a statutory instrument.

A further incident of drone activity was detected at Dublin Airport on August 3rd, leading to two inbound flights being diverted to Belfast and a number of other aircraft being required to hold for a short period.

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