The US Federal Aviation Administration has warned airports against installing systems designed to disable a drone because of the potential risk to aircraft and air traffic control services.
The US regulator is happy to help airports install detection systems but does not want them using technology designed to bring down drones.
The statement is in response to increasing worries at airports and airlines about the impact of the growing number of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and incidents of illegal use near airports.
The issue grabbed international headlines in late 2018 when Gatwick Airport was shut down by illegal drone activity during the busy pre-Christmas period.
The airport was shut down over three days and the travel plans of 140,000 people were disrupted after reports of illegal drones.
Since then there have been other reports globally of drones near aerodromes — Dubai airport was briefly closed in February because of a suspected sighting — and some airports and countries such as Australia have been trialing drone detection technology.
A number of countries are also introducing rules that require users to register drones.
The FAA said it understood and shared airport safety and security concerns raised by the malicious or errant use of drones.
It said it was continuing to work closely with airport operators who were considering detection systems or had already done so.
It had already provided important information and expected to supplement this “as we refine our processes and procedures for safe UAS detection system use and coordinated operational response at or around airports”.
“The FAA also provided information regarding the prohibition on the use of non-federal counter-UAS technologies at or around airports,’’ it said.
“These systems could pose an aviation safety risk by interfering with aircraft navigation and air navigation services.
“The FAA does not support the use of counter-UAS systems by any entities other than federal departments with explicit statutory authority to use this technology, including requirements for extensive coordination with the FAA to ensure safety risks are mitigated.”