What’s going on with Dublin Airport’s drone disruptions?

6 Mar 2023

Image: © Markus Mainka/Stock.adobe.com

Dublin Airport is calling for new legislation and equipment to help counter drones, though Government has warned it will take weeks before new measures are operational.

Drone disruptions have reached new heights for Dublin Airport, causing multiple flight delays and diversions since the start of the year.

The airport suffered its latest disruption on Thursday 2 March, when a drone sighting caused three flight diversions, while Dublin Airport suspended operations for around half an hour.

This was the sixth time since January that flights were suspended at the airport as a result of drone activity. Dublin Airport is now calling for new measures to be able to tackle drones.

“Drones causing disruptions at airports and events is a state wide issue that needs to be tackled with new legislation, a state agency responsible for managing counter drone technology and harsher sentences,” Dublin Airport said on Twitter.

As a result, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, TD, said he will go to Government tomorrow (7 March) about making anti-drone technology available for the airport, though he said it will likely take a few weeks, RTÉ reports.

What does Dublin Airport want?

Dublin Airport’s operator, the DAA, is calling for new legislation to give it the authority the tackle drone disruptions.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, the DAA’s media relations manager Graeme McQueen said the organisation has ways to tackle this issue but is unable to use them as “we don’t have the legislation”, The Irish Times reports.

“We’ve got our drone system where we see a drone, we can act on it,” McQueen said. “But we don’t have the ability to use any of those tools and equipment in order to bring the drones down.”

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has called for a simpler solution and said Minister Ryan needs to give authority to the DAA to bring down the drones themselves.

In response to this, Ryan said “it’s not as simple” as O’Leary claims and that there’s “nothing stopping Dublin Airport” from buying new equipment to handle drone disruptions.

“We need to make sure we get the right equipment and get the best defensive capability and make sure we do it in a way that protects passengers, protects people living close to the airport and that we have the ability to prosecute people who are then caught and punish them accordingly,” Ryan said to RTÉ.

“It will take a number of weeks. It won’t be instantaneous.”

Last August, ZenaDrone business development manager Simon Henry discussed the various legal and ethical issues concerning drones and their use, both commercially and recreationally.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic