Minister Jack Chambers’ ‘head in the clouds’ over Dublin Airport drones, TD says
It recently emerged that new anti-drone technology will not be deployed at Dublin Airport for several weeks
TD Catherine Murphy has criticised Minister of State Jack Chambers’ stance when it comes to tackling drone interference at Dublin Airport.
The Social Democrats representative says geo-zone data needs to be published ‘in a common format’ in order to help solve drone disruption.
Geo-zones are virtual boundaries formed around a location that handles specific traffic and data within that location. A geo-zone is created as part of a larger network that provides location data to any device within the borders.
It recently emerged that new anti-drone technology will not be deployed at Dublin Airport for several weeks.
“We don’t publish geo-zone data in a common digital format. As a result, manufacturers cannot incorporate an accurate representation of a geo-zone onto their devices”, Ms Murphy said.
"This would either stop the drone from flying into the area or alert the operator when they are about to enter a restricted zone,” she added/
The TD believes there has been a lack of urgency surrounding the issue.
“The most recent drone interference at Dublin Airport came just hours after I raised the issue of disruption and air safety with the Minister of State, Jack Chambers.
“We have had two State safety plans for aviation since 2017. It was identified in the first plan that drone use in and around airports and aerodromes was an emerging risk.
“That in itself required an immediate response. Given the seriousness of the situation, the lack of urgency from the Minister is staggering.
“I have pointed to how important the timeline will be in terms of implementing the necessary measures to deal with illegal drone activity.
“The safety of people on the ground and in the air is the paramount concern here. If we look at the current exclusion zone of a radial 5km from Dublin Airport, it does not take a genius to figure out how densely populated the area under the flight path is.
“Current sanctions do not seem to be a deterrent. It is well past the time for the State to invest in other methods to mitigate the risk,” the TD said.
The comments have been made at the same time as Ryanair chief, Michael O’Leary’s plea for urgency. Speaking on RTÉ Radio One, the aviation boss said: “Every time for the last six weeks it has been shut Mr Ryan has been holding meetings, he has been promising action, he has been meeting stakeholders; which of course is political speak for doing nothing.
“The solution to this is reasonably easy; we don’t want 15-year jail sentences, we want Dublin Airport to have the power to disable drones.”
Airports such Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and Schiphol all have anti-drone technology in place, operated by airport police.
“We need the minister to authorise Dublin Airport to spend €100,000 to buy the electronic equipment which will disable these drones once they’re identified and bring them down. We need that done today, we don’t need a memo to Cabinet next Tuesday. What happens if the airport is shut again on Saturday or Sunday?” Mr O’Leary asked.
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