Airports in the UAE suffer financial losses of AED350,000 ($95,368) a minute due to unauthorised drone activity, according to Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) estimates.
Last year, the Dubai International Airport (DXB) was closed three times due to illegal drone activities. The airport was closed for 30 minutes in two incidents (June and September), while the third intrusion in October lead to a 115 minute closure. The total loss, therefore, is estimated at AED61 million ($16.62m).
This week, a drone flying close to UK’s busiest Gatwick Airport led to the closure of the runway, grounding and forcing flights to be diverted.
UK Airprox Board, the entity that monitors near-miss incidents, said 70 drones came close to aircraft over the UK last year, more than double the number for 2015. Thirty-three such incidents have been reported this year up as of May.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Essa Al Hashmi, director of conformity department, ESMA, said the financial losses to an airport are quite high due to illegal drone activity.
“It is roughly estimated that it will cost AED350,000 of direct financial losses for every single minute the airport is stopped,” he said.
ESMA has introduced new regulatory standards for commercial and recreational use of drones, which includes a surveillance system for detecting unmanned aerial vehicles in the country.
The new regulations will apply to both recreational and commercial usages, including free zones, Al Hashmi said.
This year, the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) head of airspace safety, aviation safety and environment sector, Michael Rudolph, told Arabian Business that they plan to test their indigenously built spectrum analysis technology to track threats of rogue drones and pinpoint their locations.
In Dubai, it is now mandatory for all drone operators to apply for a license and undergo a training programme.
Since the illegal drone incidents, DXB has been named as one of four drone no-fly zones by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority. The others zones are Al Maktoum airport, the Al Minhad air base and the Palm Jumeirah near Skydive Dubai.
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