My name is Robert Tabbara, CEO of 911 Security, and these are my insights into the top security topics and questions that come up during meetings with airport officials and others in the aviation industry. In this blog series, we will answer those questions and address your top concerns so you can manage this new threat and make our airports safer.
Quick recap: In the first post, we discussed Issue #1 drone threats and risks to your airport. We detailed how understanding the scope of the risks and consequences will help you develop realistic safety strategies. Now let’s look further at Issue #2 Economic Impact & Priority so you can better understand the priority of risk and prepare to make security purchasing decisions.
Issue #2: Economic Impact & Priority
Will the investment of drone countermeasures be too costly? Or will the investment seem like pennies compared to the potential financial losses if an incident were to occur?
Impacts such as safety to passengers, legal concerns, and reputation are significant, with safety passenger and human life being the top priority. The top priorities are, for the most part, an unchanging factor no matter the airport or location.
Regardless of similar planes taking off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or John Wayne Airport (SNA), a drone being sucked into the jet engine will impact passenger safety and the plane the same.
Economic Impacts of drone incursions to airports
Besides passenger safety, the other major impacts that must be known to make informed purchasing decisions are operational and financial impacts. How much will it cost if my airport is closed for 30 minutes? For 60 minutes?
Economic losses and operational disruptions will vary at each airport depending on the number of runways, flights, and passengers you have each day. Knowing what’s at stake will help you weigh the cost/benefit of mitigating drones.
Reports of economic losses from drone incursions:
Gatwick Airport (LGW):
- Early reports suggest the 36-hour airport shut down cost the Gatwick airport at least £15m ($19.8M) in revenue, some sources suggesting the final figure could be twice as high
- easyJet airlines reported £15m ($19.8M) in lost revenue due to the drone incident
Dubai International Airport (DXB):
- Unauthorized drone activity cost the airport AED 350,000 ($95,368) per minute, according to Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) estimates.
- As of July 2017, DXB total loss is estimated at AED61 million ($16.62M) due to drones disrupting airport operations.
Even an unarmed drone can cause disruption
Going back to the Gatwick incident that occurred on Dec 19 - 21, 2018, we can see the level of disruption that unarmed drones with unclear motives can have on an airport.
The incident at Gatwick has not been labeled a “terrorist event,” but it demonstrates that even consumer drones can cause risk to life and economic activity, despite being unarmed. None of the numerous incidents involving drones disrupting civilian airports have been deemed terrorist-related, all highlighting how seemingly innocuous flying devices can cause hefty economic consequences if left unchecked.
Gatwick serves as a real-life case study to help further examine your current security policies, and how they would be effective (or not) if this happened at your airport. What would your team do in this situation?
In the next post, we will discuss Issue #3: drone policies and procedures to help your team prepare for drone-related security issues. We will dig into questions such as: are drones the FAA’s problem? What can airlines and airports do to protect their assets?