Red alerts are issued by the new Dubai Civil Aviation Authority drone tracking system for drone intrusions at the Dubai airport.
According to a statement issued by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, a real-time drone intrusion warning system has been installed and is functional in case of violation of the restricted airspace above the Dubai airport.
New drone tracking system
Illicit drone intrusions led to the temporary shuttering of the airport three times since 2016 as the flying machines were viewed as a serious threat to the safety of passengers. Drones flying around will be tracked by the new system and a red alert will be issued when drones are found to be infringing upon the sensitive flight trajectories in and out of the Dubai airport.
Drone Tracking System Alerts via SMS
A notifying SMS will be sent to the registered owners and pilots of the offending drones by the drone tracking system wherein they will be intimated to rectify their route to immediately eliminate any threat to the international airplane.
Fines up to Dh20,000 will be imposed on those pilots who do not comply with the strict flying restrictions.
Drone Tracking System: first of its kind
The new Sky Commander Tracking Program is a first of its kind in the global aviation regime and has been fully functional since this summer. Khalid al Arif, Executive Director of Aviation Safety and Environmental Sector believes that the state-of-the-art system will greatly enhance the safety of passengers at the most crowded airport in the world.
Al Arif told a local newspaper that the authorities aim to enhance the safety of all stakeholders involved and this new drone tracking system can greatly reduce the potential risks. He added that this was the first step in this regard. The interview was given in a room full of large-sized screens portraying air traffic in real-time and the SkyTraxonline portal which monitors each and every registered drone.
Successful roll out
Michael Rudolph, Head of Airspace and Environment at the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) said that the system had been functioning appropriately and the command room with its vanguard system is the first of its kind in the world.
Rudolph breathed a sigh of relief at the DCAA’s success in launching the real-time tracking portal. He felt proud of the fact that DCAA was the first-ever authority to monitor and oversee unmanned aircraft system operations. He said that the rollout took a couple of years to take place.
He asserted that the passengers should feel safe while flying in and out of the Dubai airport. He elaborated that the authority had sophisticated procedures in place to track drones and the rate of data provision was faster than even the most intricate of radar technology around. He added that the interconnectivity of the network-enabled the authority to track and follow any of the registered commercial drone pilots and they had compiled a detailed record of all the flights. He said that an offense was at once recorded as soon as the pilots diverted from their submitted trajectory and an alert was issued.
This leads to enormous savings to the Dubai economy according to Rudolph as every mitigation to the disruption in commercial flight operations results in massive financial savings and added safety of the passengers.
The tracking system has been made operational simultaneously with the stringent registration regulations for all drone owners. Drone operators are required to submit their individual flight plans in unsafe airspace with prior approval that will be analyzed by DCAA aircraft management inspectors and then approved in a span of one day if the operator and flight plan are deemed safe by the seasoned experts.
The no-objection certificate issued by DCAA approves the flight plan underscoring altitude, speed, altitude, latitude, and longitude that are to be adhered to by the operator in the most stringent of manners.
Phase wise roll out
The first phase of the system comprises tracking and approving commercial drones while the second phase to be launched soon will focus on registering drone enthusiasts and non-commercial drone pilots.
The current year according to Rudolph saw a mix of 1689 commercial, hobbyist, and non-commercial pilots getting registered in contrast to the 1402 registrations that took place the previous year.
The SkyTrax program was provided to DCAA by Exponent Technology Services which is being headed by Asam Khan who seems to be quite satisfied with the initial success of the system.
A key feature of the SkyTrax program is that all data recorded by each drone operator is stored against his profile and assists DCAA to keep an eye on the behavior and attitude of each drone pilot.
Asam Khan told the reporters that the requisite data for any certain day could be extracted for a certain pilot and views it as a step that has had a positive effect on the mindsets of drone operators who now stay careful knowing fully well that their flight data can be accessed as and when required by the authority.
For instance, about 60 operators were tracked in the previous month and the SkyTrax program issued about 106 alerts for violation of flight plans, 22 of which were issued for violation of altitude limit, and 44 were issued in relation to the drones stepping out of their approved boundary or fence.
Kelly Andrews works as the Air Traffic Management Inspector with DCAA and says that the drone tracking system provides detailed information about a certain pilot’s flight plans historically which are consulted by the authority to decide whether approval for the new flight plan should be granted or not.
Andrews feels excited about the fact that the increase in the popularity of drones means that people from sectors other than the aviation sector are coming in. Kelly feels upbeat about being able to do something to ensure safety with regard to the aviation sector.
Doing what is right!
The drone tracking system introduced by Dubai Civil Aviation Authority is exactly in line with the demands raised by Emirates Airlines in 2016 in relation to intrusions in international flight paths by drones.
The airline rued the fact in a press release that flight diversions and network disruptions owing to drone intrusions in the airspace around the Dubai International Airport cost the airline dearly in terms of finances and also created safety hazards for thousands of passengers.
Adel Al Redha, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer asked the aviation authorities to take strong action to prevent illegal intrusions of drones.
Redha articulated that safety was of paramount importance when it came to the aviation sector. He said that it was critical to close airspace amidst illicit drone intrusions.
He added that drone incursions meant huge safety risks to aircraft and posed problems for passengers. He requested the authorities to enforce stringent regulations and impose penalties on offenses along with installing drone detectors at airports.