THERE WAS ONE big winner from the drone chaos that engulfed Gatwick and news headlines over Christmas: manufacturers of anti-drone technology. Not only did they get a nice advert for what happens when you don't purchase protection, but they've made millions of pounds' worth of sales as both Gatwick and Heathrow have opened their wallets to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Never mind that in the wake of releasing the only two suspects without charge, the police briefly indicated that the drones may not actually have ever existed, it's better to be safe than sorry. And in this case safety comes in the form of multi-million pound security updates for both airports.
Neither airport has revealed what technology has been purchased, presumably for the same reasons that you don't go bragging about the burglar alarm you use on burglary forums.
But both have indicated that it's similar to the tech brought in by the British military at the end of the mini-crisis. That is believed to be the work of Israeli company Rafael, in the form of its Drone Dome system, which can track devices from up to six miles away, and sever communications with the operator. Some models, apparently, can also take down drones with a laser beam, but it's believed the British military cheaped out on that option.
The country's two biggest airports may just be the tip of the iceberg, too. The Times reports a spokesperson for Rafael said there had been significant interest from various UK airports in recent weeks. Scottish airports have upped the number of police patrols around perimeters, and are considering expanding no-fly zones too.
The trouble with all of these protections, of course, is that you don't know how effective they are until they're tested. Are no more drone delays a sign that they're working, or just a sign that nobody is flying drones around airports anymore? A month ago, the threat to airports from drones seemed negligible, after all. Now they're enemy number one. µ
Bad for shareholders, mildly good for the planet
YouTube on the Tube
Claims that it hasn't ever actually worked