DFS Deutsche Flugicherung GmbH (DFS), Germany’s air traffic control provider, along with Fraport AG (Frankfurt Airport) and Flughafen München GmbH (Munich Airport) will test drone detection systems at Frankfurt and Munich airports, starting this month. The results of this test operation are important for the systematic detection of drones on and around German commercial airports. Reliable drone detection of unauthorized flying systems is necessary as a basis for targeted drone defense.
In 2019, the Federal Ministry of Transport commissioned DFS to develop a concept for drone detection at German airports. Experts from DFS then identified how large the areas to be detected should be for security reasons. The current state of the technology will now be examined, in particular in terms of the possible detection range and the general performance of the systems available on the market as part of a feasibility study.
Drone experts from DFS and the airport operators have prepared the tests and subjected the planned processes to an extensive safety assessment. The test project has been coordinated with the responsible state aviation authorities, the regional council of Darmstadt and the South Bavarian Air Office. The test runs will also be accompanied by the federal and state police.
The findings from the test project serve as a basis for deciding which technology appears to be suitable for future drone detection at airports.
Drones are repeatedly sighted in airspaces where drone flight is prohibited. In spring 2019 as well as in February and March 2020, after sighting one or more drones, flight operations at Frankfurt Airport had to be temporarily suspended for safety reasons. Periods when take-offs and landings are not possible have enormous economic consequences for airports and airlines. Drones that fly near airports without clearance from air traffic control also endanger passengers and crews in manned aviation. Drone flying in these areas can be assessed as a dangerous interference in air traffic and can be punished with a prison sentence of up to ten years.