Dublin Airport manager DAA is waiting for the final go-ahead from communications regulators before deploying anti-drone equipment.
Drone incursions at Dublin Airport disrupted and delayed thousands of passengers in recent weeks, prompting the Government to issue a regulation allowing DAA to use equipment to bring them down or move them to a safe zone.
DAA confirmed on Friday that it has bought the equipment and has been training fire service staff at Dublin Airport to use it.
The State company is waiting on final agreement on its use from communications regulator ComReg, as the equipment uses radio signals.
ComReg oversees the use of the Republic’s radio spectrum. The organisation pointed out that all users of this must ensure that any equipment using this complies with the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926 and other laws regulating this.
“If the DAA has any queries about the use of the radio spectrum we are happy to advise and assist with this,” said a ComReg spokesman. The organisation did not comment on any talks or communications between it and DAA.
The Department of Transport said it understood that DAA and ComReg had engaged “on the use of technology from a telecommunications perspective”.
DAA said that the company was “continuing to work with the relevant regulatory agencies in advance of deployment of this new counter-drone technology”.
The Government appointed DAA to buy and operate anti-drone equipment at Dublin Airport following the most recent incidents.
The move is an “immediate and interim measure” designed to tackle the risk posed by illegal drone use at the airport, the department said.
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The Irish Aviation Authority also approves the use of anti-drone equipment to ensure that it has no impact on air travel safety, including such issues as causing any problems for signals on navigation equipment.
The authority does not comment on dealings with regulated bodies. However, it said it has worked with all airports in the State, air traffic control, airport police and An Garda Síochána, to implement plans to counter unmanned aircraft.
It is illegal to operate drones in a zone around any airport in the State. DAA has had drone detection equipment for several years, but did not have the power to take them down or interfere directly with them.
Consequently, it was unable to tackle the individual drones when they were sent into the safety zone around Dublin Airport.
The Government originally believed that new legislation was needed to allow DAA or some other State body to tackle drones directly, while there was also internal debate over which department had responsibility for the problem.
However, lawyers subsequently advised Government that a statutory instrument – essentially a regulation issued by a minister – giving the power to the DAA as an interim measure to tackle the problem at Dublin Airport was legal.