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Sun 30 Oct 2016 01:42 PM

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'Geofence' drones to keep UAE airports safe, says Dubai Airports CEO

Paul Griffiths urges UAE authorities to take action against those responsible for flying the drones

'Geofence' drones to keep UAE airports safe, says Dubai Airports CEO
(Image: Dubai Media Office)

The CEO of Dubai International Airport wants drones sold or operated in the UAE to be “geofenced,” which will restrict them from flying into controlled airspace.

Paul Griffiths made the comments after the world’s busiest airport was closed on Saturday evening for over an hour because of a drone that entered the facility's airspace.

“There has to be some form of either regulation or technical control… maybe ‘geofencing’ of the devices. They shouldn’t be sold or operated without a ‘geofence’ in place," Griffiths told the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye.

Explaining the concept, he said: “You geomap the brain of drone… so when it gets the coordinate to be within controlled airspace the drone could either just stay stationary or could not fly above an altitude. So you could create the invisible fences in the sky beyond which drones could not be operated.”

Griffiths also called for the launch of a communications campaign that clearly indicates that UAV activity should not be within the bounds of controlled airspace which is “extremely dangerous”.

He urged the UAE authorities to take action against those responsible for flying the drones.

“People are starting to suffer for the consequences of ignoring those regulations before they actually start to consider alternative activities rather than invading control airspace.”

Dubai International Airport was shut for over an hour after an inbound airplane spotted drone activity near the airport and immediately communicated that to air traffic control. A police helicopter was scrambled to try to find any activity around the airport, but nothing was traced.

Griffiths said the airport’s focus has been on resolving the drone issue, but admits closure has significant inconvenience and massive cost for airlines, customers and everyone involved in air travel.

“If we continue to see the number of stoppages we have had over the last few months, yes, I think there is a danger of reputational damage. But there is more than the reputational damage.

“Our concern is the safety which is our number one priority. These drone activities do present risks and so it must stop. We must find a way to stop it very quickly,” he added.

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