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Guangzhou airport to stop drones

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-01 07:51

Electronic security network will help to disable controls, protect airspace

Guangzhou airport is planning to deploy an electronic security network that can automatically fend off drones, which have recently been entering commercial airspace and disrupting flight schedules.

The system, which is scheduled to be launched before the end of this year, employs technologies that interrupt drones' flight control systems, said Huang Hao, deputy general manager of Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport Co.

"It is like a shield. By interrupting the flight controls, it can prevent a drone from entering an airport's airfield clearance zone. Drones won't fall to the ground, but instead will be rebounded," Huang told the audience of a recent radio program in the Guangdong provincial capital.

The new system will play a big part in ensuring the safety of passenger flights, he said, declining to give more details on the system, which is still under development.

Guangzhou airport is expected to become the first facility on the Chinese mainland to employ such a system. The measure was introduced in response to incidents over the past year involving drones that entered controlled airspace and posed a threat to civil aviation.

In one recent case, a Hangzhou resident flew a drone 450 meters above the ground on Jan 15 and tried to take photos of planes taking off and landing at the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport. Normal operations were disrupted.

In another case, a runway had to be closed for an hour and 20 minutes when a drone was observed flying at the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Sichuan province in May.

The incidents show that some drone owners do not obey the civil aviation authority's rules. The problem has worsened as civilian drone ownership has boomed on the mainland, according to industry observers.

China reportedly has more than 1,000 drone manufacturers nationwide, with drone exports representing more than 70 percent of the world drone market annually.

Yang Jieqiong, deputy secretary-general of a drone association in Shenzhen, said the Chinese mainland has registered more than 50,000 drones, and the figure is projected to grow by between 200 and 300 a month.

The Pearl River Delta region is significant to the drone boom.

"About 60 percent of the drones' operators come from cities in the Pearl River Delta," Yang said.

Song Ruliang, director of the Guangdong provincial Research Center on Rule of Law and a professor at the Guangdong Provincial Party School, said China has had flight safety laws and regulations for years, and airports and relevant departments should increase enforcement to curtail acts that threaten commercial passengers.

"Relevant departments should also make great efforts to promote flight safety and help locals further raise their awareness," Song said.

Yi Ling contributed to this story.

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