FAA, Partners Conduct Drone Detection Tests at N.J. Airport


As part of its Pathfinder Program, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided an update on its recent partnership with DHS and CACI International to explore unmanned aircraft system (UAS) detection technologies at U.S. airports.

According to the FAA, CACI’s proof-of-concept system employs radio frequency sensors at strategic locations around an airport in high, prominent locations. When the sensors detect frequencies UAS typically use, the technology triangulates the signals and determines the location of both the UAS and the operator.

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

From Jan. 25 to Feb. 2, says the FAA, the CACI system was evaluated at New Jersey’s Atlantic City International Airport – the first UAS detection research in a commercial airport environment, according to the agency.

A total of 141 operations were executed over five days – 72 with a UAS on the ground and 69 with different, small UAS in flight. In the coming months, engineers from the FAA, DHS, CACI and the University of Maryland, which also was a partner in the evaluation, will work together to compile the data for a final report by August.

John Mengucci, CACI’s chief operating officer and president of U.S. operations, comments, “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. 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.”

The FAA established its Pathfinder Program last May in an effort to explore UAS operations not addressed in its proposed rules.

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