Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Airport Safety Challenges

unmanned vehicle systemThe Blue Ribbon Task Force on UAS Mitigation at Airports (BRTF) released a report on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and counter-UAS technology, airport safety protocols, and the necessary policy framework. The BRTF, commissioned by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), studied integration, detection, identification, and mitigation of unmanned systems technology in and around airports. In addition, the Task Force sought to provide recommendations to airports and the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Building upon the Interim Report published in July 2019, the Final Report aims to advance aviation and airport safety and security. Specifically, the continuous development and wide-spread use of UAS technology represents a growing concern over drone-related incidents. As revealed by the report, the majority of incidents stem from “careless or clueless” operators of UAS applications. Furthermore, while the use of UAS can provide additional perimeter security, facility safety and inspection, the lack of regulatory framework “poses great challenges for authorities’ response to criminal operators.” In response to these challenges, the report highlights the need for solutions that can safeguard airports from unauthorized or poorly managed UAS.

As a result, the Final Report provides the following key recommendations:

  • Identify roles and responsibilities of key airport stakeholders in UAS spotting and reporting;
  • Request Congressional oversight and authorization of the FAA as the lead agency in monitoring UAS traffic;
  • Empower state and local authorities to respond to offenders through necessary legal and policy initiatives;
  • Assist airports in preparing and responding to authorized and unauthorized UAS missions on or in the airport vicinity;
  • Evaluate the safety of operational integration of UAS in airspace under 400 feet; and
  • Address evolving mission capability of UAS, including EVTOL [electric vertical takeoff and landing] package delivery.

For more information on these issues, check out the resources about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that are available in the Homeland Security Digital Library. Visit the Featured Topics for more on information. Please note: HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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