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Drones hovering over Chinese airports, calls for better regulation

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2017-04-20 13:21chinaplus.cri.cn Editor: Gu Liping ECNS App Download

Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in southwest China's Sichuan Province has been intruded by civil drones two days in a row, causing a number of arriving flights to land in alternative airports.

11 flights to Chengdu were ordered to land in nearby Chongqing on Monday afternoon, and 19 more reportedly landed in neighboring cities on Tuesday night.

A pilot of Sichuan Airlines said drones set potential threats to the planes, especially when they are flying at the same altitude. The easily irritable batteries of drones can destroy the aircraft's engine in a second once they come into contact, he explained.

Shuangliu Airport has continuously experienced drone interventions since 2015. A major incident saw one of the runways shut down for one and half hours on May 28, 2016.

A total of 55 flights suspended from landing or departing.

Frequent drone incidents nationwide

Shuangliu is not the only airport that has been affected by drones. Disruptive drones at airports have become a concentrated phenomenon in recent months throughout China.

A drone was reported on Jan. 15 within the protected air zone of Hangzhou's Xiaoshan International Airport as it was filming landing airliners, which threatened aviation safety.

Similar incidents occurred in Kunming's Changshui International Airport in February when several drones reportedly flew around the airport area, one of them only around 50 meters away from a plane in flight.

On Feb. 2, a suspected drone was found hovering over Mianyang Airport in Sichuan Province, and the airport suspended all departing and arriving planes over safety concerns.

On Feb. 26, drone activities were found around Jiangbei Airport in Chongqing Municipality, causing all departing planes to be held up on the ground.

What have been done to cope with intruding drones?

On Mar. 31, a man was detained for flying his drone above the airport air zone while he awaited an airport express bus in northeast China's Harbin.

The punishment was based on a new aviation law implemented in January.

Anyone illegally flying birds, kites, balloons, drones and other flyable objects in the air would be detained for up to 15 days, according to the law.

People would also face certain penalties for flying above objects in the airport's protected air zone, which runs 20 kilometers beyond the runway and 10 kilometers on each side.

All drone flying plans should be granted government approval, under another aviation regulation.

What else can be done?

However, many operators still fly drones while ignoring relevant laws and regulations.

An expert of civil aviation said even though the laws are in place, supervision over drones can be challenging because they are randomly flying in the open air.

The situation gets tougher when drones can currently be obtained by ordinary people easily.

A basically functioning drone costs only hundreds of yuan and can be bought online like common commodities.

Regulations of real name registrations of civil drones are reportedly to be released soon, aiming to limit the drone trade and make it possible to trace illegal drone owners.

An insider of the drone industry said an online platform should be provided to drone users.

The online service can mark the entire drone flying prohibition zones on a map and tell drone flyers where not to go.

At the same time, airports are also planning to set up drone blocking technologies to avoid potential threats.

Guangzhou's Baiyun Airport is now developing an anti-drone air fence which can effectively obstruct intruding drones. The technique is expected to be extended nationwide.

Some also said GPS can be added to drones during production for efficient supervision later.

  

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