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Airports worldwide have been facing a growing security challenge posed by drones. Drones approaching critical parts of an airport operation (such as the final approach to the runway) might cause a complete stop of operations, leading to delays for thousands of passengers and considerable costs to the airport.

London Southend Airport has recently carried out the first trial of a drone-surveillance system in British airports. The purpose of the week-long trial was to demonstrate and test the ability of the IPS-METIS Skyperion solution to monitor, detect, track and record the activity of drones in the vicinity of London Southend Airport.

The Skyperion is a counter-UAV, multi-sensor solution providing the operator with an up to the minute actionable understanding of UAV activity within range.  An easy to use interface presents the results onto a configurable map based overlay. The system is designed to integrate into a configurable and flexible network of deployed sensors through a single easy to operate software interface, where all the sensors contribute to the final decision-making process, according to the company website.

The platform utilizes a minimum of 2 sensors (RF and Optical as standard), but more can be added and integrated into the system if ordered or required to meet the minimum coverage, allowing multi-sensor classification of target of interest.

According to internationalairportreview.com, the equipment in the test involved two airfield sensors which offer 360-degree coverage up to 4 km – in all weathers, 24 hours a day – feeding back real-time information to a control ‘station’ located with the Air Traffic Control team. A series of ‘tame’ drones were deployed near the airport in order to test how the equipment worked in an ‘as live’ situation.