Drone sighting closes Heathrow


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/08/lhr-no-go.html


Short-range radar might be helpful? The kind that could detect duck and goose-sized flying objects. GFOs, if you will.

It points out the problem with laws ultimately being mostly based on the honour system. Reminds me of a friend who used to lifeguard but would also wind up doing low-level beach patrol type stuff. He said homeless people were an issue and there was no official recourse that would have the intended determent effect.

Fines? No money.
Legal threats? No fixed address.
Night in jail? Great, warm place to sleep.

The system sometimes breaks down in situations outside the norm. Consequences are good, but what if they just do it anyway?

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What if they were hypothetical drones?

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Do they close down for bird sightings? Seems like a good way to stop the airport closures is just not close the airport.


@bolamig Seems like a good way to stop the airport closures is just not close the airport.

You mean, they can do that.

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These are almost certainly Schrodinger’s Drones. Millions of them exist in a state of superposition above British airports, along with Fortean rains of fish and the Red Eyed Owlman of Mawnan.


yes but then how will we criminalise more things?


Hypothetical drones only affect hypothetical airplanes. Which means it’s a bitch on scheduling, but they’ve never caused a crash.


Calling in a bomb threat carries significant penalties.

Calling in a drone sighting is currently treated as a good thing, but has similar repercussions.

Because everyone is thinking of drones, they think they see a drone whenever they see an object in the sky. Lights on construction cranes have been called in as drone sightings. Police drones have been called in as drone sightings.

Where does it end?


Eventually every major airport will be closed most of the time due to drone sightings, at which point the rules may get changed.

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I’d actually be okay with police officers using things like beanbag guns to bring down drones operating in restricted airspace without proper authorization.

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Drones contain only small metal components which might be smaller than the wavelength of typical radars. Additionally, raw radar plots are rarely useful. In practice tracking software has to turn plot data into a model of a real aircraft in the sky. Tracking software for drones may not exist yet, at least in the civilian domain.

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Someone told me commercial drones had software blocking their ascent near airports. I called BS on that, but it might actually be a workable idea to hard-code no-fly zones into them. At least the lawmakers would be happy, and some jobs would be created. :stuck_out_tongue:


My nephew has a drone he built himself from parts. Even if the firmware he used had support for such a feature, there is no guarantee that it would be fed valid location data.


the police and everyone else involved in drones/aviation has already decided that’s a terrible idea tho


I really doubt that the no-name drones sold on AliExpress would have any such firmware.


DJI Drones generally have geolocation databases that prohibit them from flying in certain areas.

Racing drones generally don’t even have GPS, so there would be nothing to prohibit them from flying anywhere.

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