The Federal Aviation Administration says it received about 1,800 complaints in 2016 — and expects that number to grow. It’s why the agency is now spending time at DFW Airport, testing new technology to help airports better detect drones.
As the popularity of drones continues to soar, so has the number of close calls between the devices and aircraft.
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The Federal Aviation Administration said it received approximately 1,800 reports about drones flying near airports in 2016 — a figure that’s expected to rise going forward.
It’s why the agency is now testing new technology that it hopes will help airports better detect drones — and keep planes and passengers out of harm’s way.
Over the past week, the FAA has conducted some of those tests at DFW International Airport. Officials said it was an ideal location because of its size and the amount of air traffic it sees daily.
Coordinating with the airport, they flew a variety of drones over a secured section of the runway during nights and mornings.
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The system itself uses radio frequencies, radar, and cameras to locate the drones. The information is then sent to air traffic controllers, who can alert pilots and adjust flight paths.
“We’ve had really good success,” said Jim Patterson, a manager of the FAA’s Airport Safety Research & Development Section. “I will say that a lot of the technologies are kind of in a research phase and we don’t quite know that final specification is going to look like.”
Patterson said the next step is standardizing the technology so it can be used by airports across the country.
DFW was one of five testing locations the FAA used for this project.