Following major airport shutdowns in London and Newark, New Jersey, because of low-flying drones, Midstate officials are sharing the dangers of the seemingly harmless toys.
“I would definitely think it’s not an overreaction,” Pennsylvania Director of Homeland Security, Marcus Brown said, referencing claims that shutting down an entire airport over a drone is unnecessary.
“A drone is much more significant than any bird, so a drone going into an engine or even into the wing of a plane can cause a great deal of damage — and taking down planes, that’s really what the fear is at airports.”
FAA regulations require drones be flown at least five miles from an airport, at no higher than 400 feet.
“There’s a lot of technology out there that’s being developed right now to detect the drones that are in the area,” Brown said. “That technology is going to evolve to take the drone down.”
“I expect we’re going to see this happen more and more,” said Tim Edwards, executive director of Harrisburg International Airport, explaining that with increased access to drones and with more given as gifts, instances like Newark won’t go away.
“As we saw at Newark [Tuesday], it can actually interrupt airport operations to the point where they need to close the airport for safety reasons,” said Edwards. “If a foreign object either strikes an airfoil or gets ingested into a turbine engine, it can be catastrophic.”
Edwards said while HIA hasn’t had any drone incidents yet, a similar full-scale halt could happen if a drone enters the airspace.
It may seem dramatic or over the top, but Brown said there is no room for error.
“We have to take them all serious, and we’re going to.”
You can head to FAA.gov for more specific information on where and when your drone can be used.