Now, here’s a perspective that you don’t see too often: “the benefits of using drones at airports.” Almost always when we hear the words drone and airport in the same sentence it is a sure sign of trouble. However, the use of drones can also benefit an airport. Here’s how.

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Yes, drones at airports can be a good thing

In an article in the online version of the bi-monthly magazine, International Airport Review, Toby Townrow, who is the Co-Founder and Communications Director of Drone Evolution, wonders if the risks of drones can outweigh the rewards?

Of course, with the recent (still unproven) drone incidents at the Gatwick, Heathrow and Newark airports freshly in mind, it might be easy for anybody to argue that drones are more trouble than they are worth. However, Toby argues that:

“Drones have many benefits, and if the negative effects are properly mitigated, the benefits far outweigh those risks.”

After describing a number counter drone measures, Toby focusses on the benefits drones can offer, such as “they can be used to keep people safer,” and drones can help organization to do “more with less.”

Even at airports there is an opportunity for drones to offer substantial benefits, even though it would require “risk management and extensive permissions”. Toby informs us that drone tests are currently being conducted at Manchester Airport. He then continues to list the benefits that the use of drones can bring to airports.

The benefits of using drones at airports

“For airports, there some huge potential benefits:

Runway Integrity Surveys – Drones could be used to provide 3D maps of runways in a very short space of time for routine maintenance to a very high accuracy level. Detecting problems with runway integrity at an early stage will lead to efficiency savings in the long-term.

Perimeter Security – Drones can be used to provide support to manned guarding via a control centre to react to threats quickly and act as a visual deterrent. Tethered drones can stay in the air for extended periods as opposed to the 20 to 30 minutes currently afforded by their free flying cousins.

Foreign Object Detection – Drones can be used to provide the aerial detection of foreign objects, alleviating the need to shutdown a runway so that this can be done by eye (as is currently the practice) whilst freeing up valuable runway slots.

Building Surveys – Like runways, drones can be used to provide aerial surveys of terminal buildings for routine maintenance. This is much safer than sending people up ladders or using hoppers – and an awful lot quicker too.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of application and potential. This demonstrates the positive impact that drone technology can have on many aspects of our lives – and what we can do to mitigate the risks.”

What do you think about the use of drones at airports. Do you see benefits as well? Let us know in the comments below.

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