London’s Heathrow airport has deployed a system designed to block drones entering its airspace following a string of recent attempts that threatened Europe’s busiest travel hub.
The airport, classified as a flight restriction zone by authorities, is now using a product manufactured by France’s Thales SA to detect and identify drones. The French company declined Tuesday to detail the contract’s value or the precise specification being used at Heathrow.
Heathrow chose a holographic radar system developed by Aveillant Ltd., a Cambridge, England company acquired by Thales in 2017. Its technology is now part of the French defense contractor’s anti-drone solution, EagleShield.
The radar system is also used at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport. It can detect drones as far as 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away in all directions, according to Aveillant’s website. Appropriate countermeasures can then be deployed.
Representatives for Thales wouldn’t say what Heathrow planned to use as a countermeasure, but said drone-disabling technology was not part of its contract with the airport.
Away from transit hubs, common solutions include the use of radio waves to jam the signal used by a pilot to control a drone, or take over control of the unit. Other methods include dispatching eagles or giant nets to pull craft out of the sky.