Due to suspected drone sightings, Gatwick Airport in the UK was shut down a few days before Christmas of last year. This was done due to security concerns regarding flight disruptions that drones might cause during the landing and takeoff procedures within the airport’s air space. The police arrested a couple whom they believed to be involved in the indecent, but they were later released without charges. As a result of this, DJI, the company that manufactures the drones that were seen in the area, will be implementing stricter geofencing rules developed by aviation tech company Altitude Angel.
“Geofencing” is a term used to describe a virtual boundary that defines a geographical area. It can then monitor this area for any rogue drones, planes or other objects. The design of the geofence proposed by DJI resembles the shape of a bow tie with four exclusionary zones. In the middle of the geofence is the runway, which is a restricted zone. No drone would be allowed to enter this area under any circumstance. Around the runway, is an oval shape, which is the authorization zone.
This area permits the use of only those drones with authorization, presumably by airport authorities. This means that no unauthorized drones will be permitted to enter this zone. While not a circular shape, the “radius” of this zone is 4km, ensuring that no unauthorized drones are anywhere near flights that are landing or taking off. In a larger oval around the authorization zone is the enhanced warning zone. Any unauthorized drones entering this area will receive a warning to exit the zone immediately.
The fourth zone, called the altitude zone, extends outwards in a triangular shape from both ends of the runway. Drones will be permitted to fly in this zone but only at lower altitudes. This would be the basic design for high risk airports. The two other designs are available for medium risk and low risk airports. The shape of the geofence for the medium risk airport is the same as that of the high risk airport with the only difference being that the warning levels are reduced. The low risk airport geofence contains only an enhanced warning zone on the runway.
DJI is calling its new system the Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) 2.0. The update to the drone firmware as well as the DJI Go 4 mobile app will be rolled out later in the month. In addition to the UK, the update will also be made available to 32 European countries.