The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it has begun testing drone detection, tracking, and identification technology around Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
According to the government agency, there have been approximately 90 visual drone sightings and 5,200 technical detections within three miles of the LAX perimeter since 2021.
This year alone, some 38 drones have been visually detected at LAX including a drone that was reported within 700 feet of an aircraft several days before Super Bowl LVI when SoFi Stadium and LAX were designated as “No Drone Zones”.
So now, LAX is joining Miami International Airport in TSA’s “UAS Test Bed Program,” wherein the agency is trying to gauge the efficacy of drone detection technology in an operational airport environment.
TSA points out that while many drones – such as those manufactured by DJI – are equipped with GPS and geofencing software that prevents their use in restricted locations, some operators do not follow rules and safety restrictions.
In June 2022, for example, a drone was flown near a runway at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Virginia. As a result, the FAA was forced to shut down air traffic for about 45 minutes.
It’s worth highlighting that operators who violate restricted airspace are subject to drone confiscation, civil penalties, and potential criminal prosecution, as per the FAA.
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the TSA budget, has lauded TSA’s efforts to find innovative new solutions to passenger safety and security. She says:
While there are many beneficial uses for drones in our society, it is becoming far too common that drones are sighted near airports, which presents significant security risks and unnecessary disruptions to the traveling public. Combined with the first test bed in Miami, this program will allow TSA to validate the effectiveness of UAS detection technology in real-world, aviation environments.
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