FAA: New technology shows promise in detecting drones, locating operators

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Federal air security officials are working on ways to better detect unmanned aircraft when they fly near airports and airplanes, thanks to recently tested prototype technology.

Every month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) receives over 100 reports of UAS, also known as drones, flying too close to a piloted airplane or an airport. This is a serious safety issue for both the FAA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

It is becoming more and more popular to fly UAS as a hobby or for general recreation, and air security officials have established registration guidelines to guarantee that airports and piloted airplanes are safe.

“The explosive growth of the unmanned aircraft industry makes evaluating detection technologies an urgent priority,” Marke “Hoot” Gibson, FAA senior adviser on UAS integration, said. “This research is totally aimed at keeping our skies safe, which is our No. 1 mission.”

To solve these safety concerns, the FAA -- along with conducting ongoing education and outreach work -- has teamed up with

DHS and information-technology company CACI International to examine how CACI's prototype detection technology can be used to detect UAS that are too close to airports and planes. The new technology uses sensors to find UAS frequencies, triangulating the signals to locate the operator, as well as the device.

“The results of testing under our PathFinder agreement with the FAA at Atlantic City International Airport demonstrate that CACI’s proprietary system – SkyTracker – performed as designed,” John Mengucci, CACI chief operating officer and president of U.S. operations, said. “SkyTracker successfully identified, detected and tracked UAS in flight, and precisely located drone ground operators – all without interfering with airport ground operations. We are very proud to partner with the FAA and DHS to help ensure national airspace safety from the escalating UAS threat.”

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U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

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