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Drone attacks

DAA given green light to buy frequency jamming anti-drone technology for use at Dublin Airport

No primary legislation is required to enable its use at the airport, it is believed.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 7th 2023, 7:20 PM

GOVERNMENT HAS APPROVED plans to instruct the Dublin Airport Authority to purchase non-kinetic counter drone technologies. 

Flight activity at the airport was briefly suspended last Thursday due to drone activity, the sixth such disruption in as many weeks.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan came in for scathing criticism from Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary last week, when the airline boss said that anti-drone technology is a “reasonably easy” solution that would only cost around €100,000.

O’Leary had also spoken about the apparent indecision about whether gardaí, Airport Police or the DAA would operate the anti-drone technology. 

Following today’s decision, DAA will now operate the technology system.

It is understood that the most commercially available systems proposed for use at Dublin Airport uses radio frequency jamming.

These non-kinetic systems scramble the frequency and cause a drone to return to its operator or to land at a designated safe site. 

Other systems were - known as kinetic systems – were deemed to be legally complex as they involve physically capturing drones.

Damage or destruction of a drone using nets, projectiles or other drones carry risks, Cabinet was told, raising concerns about property damage claims. 

The cost of purchasing, deploying and operating the new system at Dublin Airport will be met by DAA and it is anticipated that the new drone system will be in place in the coming weeks.

A deeper analysis of what technologies could be used as a long term solution will now be carried out.

A wider examination of the need of counter drone technology to protect key state infrastructure such as other airports, energy generation and transmission facilities, defence forces facilities, Government buildings and water infrastructure will be needed, Cabinet was told. 

It is understood an existing state agency will be tasked with leading this work.

Following the decision today, there will be a short period where training is undertaken and the technology is delivered to Dublin Airport.

No primary legislation is required to enable its use at the airport, it is believed.

Operations at Dublin Airport have been suspended on six separate occasions since late January, resulting in safety risks to aviation, diverted and delayed flights and severe disruption to passenger journeys.

Minister of State Jack Chambers yesterday told Newstalk’s Hard Shoulder that Dublin Airport should have the counter-drone technology in place within “a number of weeks”.

In a statement yesterday evening, DAA CEO Kenny Jacobs said: “We are glad the State has made a decision on this important issue. Given this is a state-wide issue, we remain of the view that the ultimate owners of this must be An Garda Síochána or the Department of Defence.

“However, we are already progressing this at pace in the interests of the public safety and to prevent travel disruption. Exact timelines cannot be confirmed just yet given the requirement to identify and procure the most suitable technology, engage with the Irish Aviation Authority on its use and train those that will ultimately deploy it.”

He added: “But we are moving very quickly, and we will have this technology in place as soon as possible.” 

 

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