Heathrow Airport Gets 5km-Range Holographic Drone Detection

Heathrow Airport Gets 5km-Range Holographic Drone Detection

Illegal drone flights are a growing problem for airports, critical infrastructure facilities and secure locations around the world.

To improve security against these threats London Heathrow Airport recently deployed a holographic radar system developed by Aveillant, a UK company acquired by Thales SA in 2017, aimed at preventing drones from entering its airspace and interrupting operations. Introducing this new drone detection technology follows several reports of drones at airports around London, including Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport. In December 2018, Gatwick airport was closed for more than 24 hours around the busy holiday travel season when there were multiple drone sightings near the runway.

This one-of-a-kind Counter Drone system works by detecting and tracking drones in surrounding airspace and alerting airports of unauthorized drone use quickly and efficiently. This new and innovative system also works to locate the drone pilots themselves and can be utilized to identify their location.

(For years, air surveillance has had to rely on spinning radars that can only follow their target once every revolution between 4 to 10 seconds, leaving aircraft undetected during that intervening window. By contrast, Holographic Radar surveys the air space constantly, never losing sight of its targets or their true position. This provides truly situational awareness surveillance. Courtesy of Altran and YouTube.) 

This technology has been specifically designed for Heathrow Airport by Operational Solutions Ltdand comprises of a variety of leading counter drone technologies, including systems from Aveillant.This is the same detection system that is already in use at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport.Radar technology has been with us for over seventy years, yet many of the fundamental elements of radar design have changed little over that time.The vast majority of radars are based on mechanical scanning – a rotating antenna which sends out a pulse of radio waves, receives the echo and so can calculate the range and direction of a target, which results in the classic “blip” on a radar screen every few seconds.

Aveillant’s Holographic Radar system differs fundamentally from both traditional mechanically scanned radars and from more advanced electronically scanned systems, as Holographic Radar floodlights a volume of interest on transmit, and forms multiple simultaneous receive beams that fill the illuminated volume.

Heathrow Airport Gets 5km-Range Holographic Drone Detection - American Security Today
Heathrow Airport Gets 5km-Range Holographic Drone Detection – American Security Today


The fast and accurate detection of rogue drones will help to keep Heathrow’s passengers and colleagues safe and will support the airport, law enforcement and air traffic controllers as they work to protect Heathrow’s airspace.
This new kit will enhance detection capabilities and minimize delays, helping passengers to get to their destinations on time.
The technology will also help the airport to meet its sustainability objectives, by reducing fuel wastage and additional flight stacking caused by unauthorized drones use.
This news follows the introduction of legislation prohibiting unauthorized drones from being flown within the Flight Restriction Zone (FRZ) which extends out to 5km of any airport boundary, which was introduced in March 2019.
Pilots who break the law and fly drones without permission within a FRZ in the UK can face a prison sentence of up to five years.

“The safety and security of our passengers and colleagues is our number one priority,” explained Jonathan Coen,” Director of Security for Heathrow Airport Ltd.
“That is why we’re investing in this new cutting-edge technology which will enhance our capabilities in the detection and deterrence of drones in and around our airfield.”“We’re delighted to have this unique system keeping our skies safe and helping passengers and cargo to get to their destinations on time.”
“Aveillant is pleased that its counter drone systems have been selected to be deployed at Heathrow and that they are able to contribute to the safety and security of passengers and airlines at the UK’s largest international airport,” added Dominic Walker, CEO of Aveillant Limited.