FAA conducts drone detection tests at JFK

FAA conducts drone detection tests at JFK

Federal agencies are taking threats from inexpensive commercial drones seriously.  In the latest example of that stance, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it had conducted tests to evaluate drone detection technology at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in conjunction with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.   

Evaluations, which began on May 2, examined the effectiveness of the FBI’s unmanned aerial system detection system in a commercial airport environment.  According to the FAA, five rotorcraft and fixed-wing UAS participated in about 40 tests. 

“We face many difficult challenges as we integrate rapidly evolving UAS technology into our complex and highly regulated airspace,” said the FAA Senior Advisor on UAS Integration Marke “Hoot” Gibson. “This effort at JFK reflects everyone’s commitment to safety.”

The Rome, N.Y.-based Griffiss International Airport FAA test site provided test planning and aircraft used during the JFK evaluations. 

Earlier this year, the FAA worked with DHS and the University of Maryland to test CACI International’s drone detection prototype SkyTracker at the Atlantic City, N.J., airport.  SkyTracker uses radio frequency sensors to detect drones and triangulate the position and both the aircraft and their operators. 

DHS also recently announced a three-year partnership with the University of North Dakota to explore uses for UAS in the national airspace as well as mitigations for possible misuse.

“This mission critical research will facilitate a better understanding of both capabilities and vulnerabilities of unmanned aerial technology as well as spur the development of countermeasures to potential threats based upon their use,” DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Reginald Brothers said. “It is this kind of collaborative research that ultimately informs our law enforcement and policymakers.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who helped put together the agreement said she and DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last April discussed the challenges law enforcement and border security personnel face and ways  UAS researchers at UND could work with DHS to improve the safety of North Dakota communities and shape  improvements in homeland security.   

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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