The Drone Detection Pilot Project being carried out at the Ottawa International Airport has received some traction in WINGS Magazine, Canada’s leading online and print publication about the aviation world.

InDro Robotics is one of the partners in the project at YOW, supplying hardware and software used to detect drones that might pose a threat to passenger, private and cargo aircraft using the airport. The program has gathered a lot of valuable data since it began in the fall of 2019.

But what it gathered during the anti-vaccine mandate protests in Ottawa in February of 2022 really raised some eyebrows. Drones were detected flying in a restricted flight zone over Parliament Hill and elsewhere in the downtown Ottawa core, with a spike during police operations to clear the protests.

A total of 27 different drones carried out 59 flights over a period of four days. Of those, 25 flights exceeded 400’ above ground level (Transport Canada’s limit, except in special circumstances). Eleven flights took place during hours of darkness – though that’s not a violation of regulations providing the drone is using lights that allow the pilot to maintain Visual Line of Sight and orientation.

Nonetheless, these flights all took place in restricted airspace. A small number were carried out by law enforcement, but the vast majority were not. As you’ll see in the following graphic, 15 unique drone IDs were detected, and 25 of the 59 flights were carried out above 400 feet (including one at 1583′ AGL).

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Wake-up call

 

Our initial story about this caused quite a stir, including this article in the Ottawa Citizen – along with attention from Canadian airports that do not currently have drone detection programs. And now, WINGS Magazine has picked it up.

The article appears in the May/June Digital Edition, which is also a print edition.

WINGS Magazine YOW Drone Detection Program

Drone detection, made simple

 

The system in place at YOW includes a micro-Doppler radar, capable of detecting the movement of small drone propellors at close range. It also features a sophisticated antennae array, which has been picking up flights as far as 40-50 kilometres from the airport.

The system is automated – and the data is banked. If a drone poses an immediate threat to a flight path, an alert is sounded and airport authorities can quickly respond.

You can read the story that appears in WINGS Magazine here. We’d also like to thank editor Jon Robinson for picking this up.

InDro’s take

 

We’ve pleased to be an integral part of the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Project. The results have been greater than we all anticipated, with highly granular data that has helped YOW educate drone pilots and also prepare an airport protocol for those rare but critical occasions when RPAS flights have the potential to impinge on the safety of crewed aircraft. The system provides enough advance warning that aircraft pilots can be given a heads-up and instructions to minimise any conflict with drones; the system is also capable of identifying the location of the RPAS pilot.

Monthly data is shared with program partners and has generated interest from other Canadian airports. The data detected during the Ottawa protests has also attracted the interest of those responsible for the safety of Parliament Hill and other critical buildings in the downtown Ottawa core.

For more information on how a drone detection system might benefit your airport or critical infrastructure, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.