The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an initial research program to evaluate drone detection technology at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
"We face many difficult challenges as we integrate rapidly evolving [drone] technology into our complex and highly regulated airspace," said Marke Gibson, FAA senior adviser on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Integration. "This effort at JFK reflects everyone's commitment to safety."
The FAA said there were 764 drones sighted near airplanes last year, despite current guidelines prohibiting flying drones near planes or within five miles of an airport unless the control tower has been contacted first. Drones also are supposed to fly below 400 feet, stay away from stadiums and remain in sight of the operator.
The tests at JFK examined the ability of the system to identify five types of drones, including common rotorcraft and more advanced fixed-wing drones.
"We applaud the FBI and FAA for their efforts to detect and track unmanned aerial systems (UAS)," said Thomas Bosco, Port Authority of New York Aviation Director. "We look forward to supporting continued U.S. Government efforts to identify and deploy countermeasures to neutralize the threat posed by rogue UASes."
"Unless more is done, it's not if an accident will happen, it's when," Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said at a hearing of the House subcommittee on aviation last year.
"We don't really know what happens when you suck a quadcopter [drone] into a jet engine," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who pointed out that a four-pound bird hits a jet moving at 260 mph with the force of 12 tons.