Dublin Airport can now strike back against drone disruptions

7 Sep 2023

Image: © nevodka.com/Stock.adobe.com

Following a series of disruptions earlier this year, Dublin Airport is now legally authorised to deal with trespassing drones.

Dublin Airport now has the legal right and the technology to take down drones that present a risk to its operations.

This follows a series of flight delays and diversions earlier this year, caused by drone sightings near the airport. Dublin Airport’s operator, the DAA, called for new legislation to give it the authority the tackle drone disruptions.

These disruptions reached a peak in March, when a single drone sighting caused three flight diversions and suspended operations at Dublin Airport for around half an hour.

The DAA originally called for new legislation, a state agency responsible for managing counter drone technology and harsher sentences to tackle this issue. But others – including Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary – called for the simpler solution of allowing the DAA to bring down the drones themselves.

Now, changes to the 1926 Wireless Telegraphy Act state that it is “lawful” for the DAA to use a radio frequency jammer to interfere with unmanned aircraft systems (drones) if the DAA “reasonably believes such work or use to be necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation or public safety”.

A spokesperson for the DAA told SiliconRepublic.com that the organisation is “constantly engaged in maintaining safety in relation to illegal drone operations near our airports”.

“We acted quickly in response to the Government’s direction on this matter, purchasing the counter-drone equipment and training our relevant personnel in its use within just weeks,” the spokesperson said.

“Having recently received the necessary approvals, the anti-drone technology is fully operational and available for use as and when required at Dublin Airport. We remind all drone users that it is illegal to operate a drone with 5km of any Irish airport.”

Drone technology has surged in recent years, with concepts such as drones delivering food supplies, medical supplies and monitoring crops. Ireland appears to be playing a leading role in regulating this sector, with a mix of home-grown and international companies setting up operations here.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic