Incheon Airport’s Drone Detection System Capturing illegal Drones

Can you believe that 110,000 passengers were unable to fly due to a single drone? It actually happened in the UK’s Gatwick Airport back in 2018. The airport stopped more than 800 flights for terrorism and security reasons due to a drone flying over the runway. As the Gatwick Airport is the second busiest airport in the UK, even military forces were mobilized to capture the suspect.

While drones are regarded as one of the leading Industry 4.0 technologies, they may pose various social problems like what we just mentioned; they pose a high risk of accident as they can fly freely without spatial restrictions. Preventing illegal drones is one of the most important challenges for airports where safety is the top priority. That is why there are many discussions about legislating against illegal drones and developing preventative technologies.

How can we prevent drone accidents?

The Aviation Security Act of the Republic of Korea also regulates the operation of illegal drones near airports. The Aviation Security Act designates 9.3km from the airport as a “No Drone Zone.” If someone flies a drone within 9.3km from the airport without approval from competent local aviation authorities, they can face fines or penalties.

However, what is more important than punishment must be prevention. The problem is it is more difficult to defend against drones than other flying objects. In particular, small drones are difficult to detect due to their size. As such, anti-drone technologies such as drone detection radars and systems are becoming increasingly important.

Detect even small drones! Incheon Airport’s drone detection system

How can we prevent dangerous drone accidents? Incheon Airport, a gateway for Korea, stepped up to the challenge.

Incheon Airport started developing its drone detection system on September last year. After one year, pilot operations have been conducted after the system was finally established. Aside from military airports, Incheon Airport is the first private airport in Korea to establish a drone detection system.

Incheon Airport’s drone detection system comprises 3 steps: detect, identify, and neutralize. In other words, it detects any small flying object in air traffic zones, identifies whether it is a drone, bird or something else, and neutralizes it if it turns out to be an unwanted entry by a drone.

Incheon Airport’s “No Drone Zone”


Traffic control screen of
Incheon Airport’s drone detection system


Step 1 (Detecting & Alerting)


The route of a flying drone is drawn in a green line, and an alert sets off in green, yellow, or red zone as it approaches the airport.

Step 2 (Locating of Drone & Pilot)


The locations of the illegal drone and its pilot are identified on a map with coordinates.

Step 3 (Dispatch & Arrest)


A combined campaign of the airport, police, and military resolves the situation as quick as possible.

Technology must be a prerequisite to detect small drones, right? Multi-sensing with short-range low-altitude radar and RF scanner can easily detect drones! In addition, the IOT-based integrated control system provides traffic control in real time, which makes it possible to respond to drones quickly and efficiently!

In particular, Incheon Airport has been capturing attention with not only its improved drone detection technology, but also its drone accident response system. In October 2019, the airport signed an MOU for joint response to illegal drones between the private sector, military, and police and established a quick response system. It is also planning to further strengthen its collaborative system with other relevant authorities to detect and prevent unlawful drones.

Starting with its pilot operation, Incheon Airport will fully operate the drone detection system by the end of next year. Let’s look forward to safe air travel without worrying about accidents due to illegal drones! Safety is number one priority at Incheon Airport, so you can be sure to rely on us!

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