The Importance and Urgency of Proper Counter-Drone Legislation and Technology to Achieve Safer Airspace

avril 27, 2023 | Troy Kearse

Drone safety is the law, as the Federal Aviation Administration explains. Before flying a drone in  the US, many rules must be considered, particularly for those who still need to pass a comprehensive exam to get the Part 107 license.  For example:

  • If your drone weighs more than 0.5 pounds (250g), it needs to be registered; no one should fly a drone that weights more than 55 pounds (25kg)
  • Drones should fly below 400ft (120m)
  • Unless properly authorized, no drones should fly in controlled airspace (such as airports, government and VIP locations, sports arenas, etc.)
  • The importance of line-of-sight – you may not lose sight of your drone
  • Any crewed aircraft gets priority in the sky

Just as there are drone rules, there is also counter-drone legislation, some in place, and new proposals in process. In Europe, different countries have different laws. Most countries allow counter-drone solutions in certain environments and situations (such as airports, governmental buildings,  major events, VIP protection, military sites, etc.) after proper authorities recognize the threat of an unidentified drone.

In the US, however, there are some restrictions regarding counter-drone solutions, sometimes affecting the defense posture. Mitigation of drone threats is particularly complex nowadays.

Last year, the White House’s Domestic Counter-UAS National Action Plan and the Senate’s Safeguarding the Homeland from the Threats Posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act of 2022 were issued, providing a long-awaited and sorely needed plan to address drone threats. Both recognize the heightened risk associated with drone proliferation and the significant level of concern about the weaponization of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UASs). The strategic goal is to safeguard the expansion of positive UAS activity while safeguarding airspace by closing notable gaps in current laws and policies with new ground rules.

These important steps should be implemented rapidly and applied in the most flexible manner to maximize the value of C-UAS measures in reducing risk and thereby achieving the widest homeland protection coverage possible. While new legislation has yet to be passed, the risk of drone threats continues.

Drone detection is possible and helpful in many ways, but it is not enough, and mitigation must also always be considered. You can detect a drone from miles away. However, you are still limited in which way to protect your surroundings, given current laws, depending on the scenario and which security agency oversees the situation.

Let’s look at one scenario:

Say you are at an outdoor event with thousands of people. You would expect some type of security around, so drones would not be able to disrupt the environment. However, people break laws, so even if the local police or government could declare a “no-fly zone,” plenty of bad actors may endanger the situation and test the limits. This has been seen repeatedly – check out our Incident Tracker, where we cover several sectors, including stadiums and arenas…  Drones are becoming more of a threat to different sectors and scenarios, such as airports, borders, critical facilities and infrastructure, government buildings, law enforcement agencies, homeland security, prisons, and more.

Why should a rogue drone be any different than a conventional threat?

For example,  you see five gunmen walking down the street with M-16s in their hands, pointing at people. Will you do something about it, or wait until they start shooting? How is that different than seeing five non-authorized, potentially armed and dangerous drones flying over people in an amusement park with hundreds of people? Why must we wait until they drop some type of weapon or chemical powder before we react? (Real story: Last year, a drone was used to spray foul-smelling poisonous chemical liquids on the crowd and VIPs at a pre-election event in Brazil.)

Either way, hundreds of people could be injured on purpose or accidentally. (There was serious panic and an hour-long disruption in India after a delivery drone carrying blood vials crashed on the metro line.)

As we go forward, there is no need to wait until something bad happens before we stop another threat – just as most people today have security in their homes without waiting for someone to break in. It is important to control the drone threat while ensuring not to hurt anyone or harm the environment. That’s where mitigation without interruption of communications is key to resolving the problem. In 2021, during a crowded Holy Mass with Pope Francis in Slovakia, an unauthorized drone was detected and fended off by D-Fend Solutions’ EnforceAir, without disrupting the event or scaring the large crowd in the area.

With the right counter-drone solution, authorized drones are recognized, and their flight is not interrupted. While today’s legal authorities are properly worried about people’s rights to fly drones, unauthorized drones or drones flying over a no-fly zone can be a serious risk to thousands of people. People’s safety and security are important to safeguard while also allowing the benefits of proper drone activity.

Troy Kearse is D-Fend Solutions’ Federal Sales Director for the United States, with over 28 years of experience in working with the US Department of Defense and intelligence agencies. He served over 14 years in the US Navy as a communications naval officer, with top secret clearance from the DoD. Troy is passionate about making sure that the US Armed Forces and Intelligent Agencies have everything they need to protect the country and the people. Troy has worked in partner development, sales, and account management for major companies such as Oracle, MongoDB, and Sybase. Troy is a skilled sales and customer service executive, providing high quality service to build a positive and supportive relationship with Federal and Military personnel and governmental partners. Troy graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis with a BS degree in computer science.

Subscribe to email updates

Sign up here to receive the latest news, upcoming events, webinars and industry best practice resources