Gatwick's chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe is about to star on BBC's Panorama, where he'll make the claim that the drone chaos that struck the airport late last year was almost certainly an inside job.This matches up with what local police have previously said, with Woodroofe saying that whoever disrupted the airport "...seemed to be able to see what was happening on the runway," adding that "...it was clear that the drone operators had a link into what was going on."They also chose a model of drone that wasn't on the tracking databases of the airport's DJI Aeroscope off-the-shelf drone detection system, which is either a big coincidence or shows someone had at least a technical "in" into the airport's methods of operation and the hardware being used.He's also sure there actually was a drone and it's not all a case of mass paranoia, as he said the reports came from "...members of my team, people I have worked with for a decade, people who have worked for thirty years on the airfield, who fully understand the implications of reporting a drone sighting."A Panorama special, The Gatwick Drone Attack, including these words and 28 other minutes of investigative content, goes out on BBC One tonight.
Police say the drone attack that disrupted flights at Gatwick Airport for 33 hours last December may have been carried out by an insider at the airport.Sussex Police said the possibility that an insider was involved was “credible”, while Gatwick’s chief operating officer said the attacker appeared to have knowledge of airport procedures.“It was clear that the drone operators had a link into what was going on at the airport,” said Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s chief operating officer, who oversaw the facility’s response to the incident.He said the attacker could apparently see what was happening on the runway, or was eavesdropping on the airport’s radio or internet communications.The drone used was “specifically selected” as one that could not be seen by the DJI Aeroscope drone-detection equipment Gatwick was testing at the time, Woodroofe told the BBC’s Panorama programme, in his first report since the incident.Sussex Police said it expects its inquiry to take “some months” to complete.
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“We expect nine in 10 tickets to be available for sale to customers as smart tickets.”Rail passengers traveling in the UK now have more options to use smart tickets, rather than the standard orange paper tickets.The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) have announced that several major stations have been upgraded to facilitate a digital smart ticketing system.The RDG have said that: “Passengers travelling from all major stations across Britain including Waterloo, Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central are now able to go paperless, buying smart tickets more quickly and easily online or via their smartphones to store on their handset or a smartcard.”“We expect nine in 10 tickets to be available for sale to customers as smart tickets.”Smart ticket uptake is steadily increasing as consumers move away from traditional paper methods, some for environmental reasons, others for the convenience of holding your travel ticket within a personal smart device.
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Paperless tickets really are on their way to our creaking train network, insists the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train companies.Although mobile and smartcard tickets have been available for a while at some stations, a lot of places haven't got with the times yet (shocker) and have yet to have the requisite equipment installed.This leaves you standing at the barriers like a wally, uselessly waving your smartphone while the one customer service assistant who hasn't been laid off tries to deal with 8 people at once.The equipment is in the process of being installed at major stations now, and the RDG says you'll soon be able to use smart tickets for 9 out of 10 journeys on Britain's railways.However, as we've learnt from Brexit, "soon" could mean anything between last Friday and next millennium.Big stations including Edinburgh Waverley, London Waterloo and Gatwick Airport have recently had the tech installed, and it's on its way to Blackfriars, City Thameslink, London Bridge, East Croydon, Watford Junction and Shenfield.
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A range of systems already exist to prevent drones from flying into restricted airspace, but the U.K.’s Ministry Defence (MoD) has decided to go its own way with the launch of a $2.5 million contest aimed at attracting new ideas for such technology.The initiative comes comes in the wake of a costly and disruptive incident in December 2018 when multiple drone sightings at Gatwick — one of the U.K.’s busiest airports — forced the facility to suspend its operations for around 36 hours, the longest time any airport has ever had to close because of suspected drone activity.Launched by the MoD’s innovation hub, the contest is inviting the submission of “robust and cost-effective next-generation solutions” for detecting and mitigating threats posed by unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including everything from a single consumer quadcopter to more sophisticated systems flying in swarms.The first part of the contest involves selecting the most promising proposals for anti-drone platforms, with the multi-million-dollar fund split over multiple phases to help teams develop their ideas.As part of the Defence Science and Technology Lab’s (DSTL) ongoing research program, the contest has a deadline of March 2020 to identify and develop the best ideas.“Hostile UAS is a challenging threat in many different ways and requires cutting edge technology and well-thought-out system approaches to counter it effectively,” David Lugton, DSTL’s principal engineer, said in a statement.
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Anything that will stop airports grounding planes during holibobs, reallyWith one eye on the pre-Chrimbo debacle at Gatwick Airport, the Ministry of Defence has flung £2m at a "counter drone" fund to address the "threat to national security" posed by remote-controlled aircraft.Ever ready with the canned quote, omnipresent defence secretary Gavin Williamson declared this morning: "As the security threats from hostile drones are evolving at pace, it's critical that our armed forces benefit from the very latest technology to stay ahead."The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), which is the MoD's tech innovation tentacle, is chipping £2m off the Defence Innovation Fund's £80m/year annual budget to fund a competition for industry to come up with new anti-drone ideas.Promising ideas picked by DASA get £800k for further development.The best of those then get more cash firehosed at them to turn them into viable products for military units to deploy, as DASA itself explained in detail.
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The incident points to the urgent need for significant action to ensure that drones are used safely and securely in the UK.The government has begun to regulate the sector: it is currently an offence to endanger aircraft, drone pilots are not permitted to fly their drones near people or property, and drones must be kept within a visual line of sight.Laws restricting drones from flying above 400ft across the UK and within 1km of protected airport boundaries were recently updated to extend no-fly zones around airports to 5km.While these regulations are a good first step in protecting aircraft and the public from those unaware of the risk their drones could pose, there remains a lot of action to be taken to better safeguard the public and prevent another situation similar to the Gatwick chaos.In order for airports, and other open or vulnerable spaces, such as sports grounds and prisons, to be safeguarded from drones, effective countermeasures will need to be put in place.These include monitoring technologies such as highly specialised drone-tracking radar, as well as technologies that are able to neutralise drones once they are detected.
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Our Flying High programme looks to shape the future of drones in UK cities; we take a collaborative approach by working with key organisations, including city hall, hospitals, and emergency services, as well as central government, academia, industry leaders, and regulators.More than 83 per cent of MPs supported the use of drones to monitor road pollution and air quality.Over 77 per cent were in favour of using drones to support fire and rescue services – as long as they relieved pressure on emergency services.Understandably, the public and local leaders also want parameters placed on drone use to protect safety and privacy.For example, Network Rail has started using drones to assess and improve their rail network, and Altitude Angel partnered with Manchester Airport and the National Air Traffic Services to demonstrate an unmanned traffic management system with a programme called Operation Zenith.This last example is noteworthy, because as well as looking to improve operational efficiency, it showed that drones can be operated safely within an airport’s exclusion zone, provided the right safety protocols are put in place.
What do Dublin Airport in Ireland, Gatwick Airport in England, and Newark Airport in the U.S. have in common?Answer: They’ve all suffered major disruptions in recent months following reports of drones flying nearby.Airports globally are examining all kinds of tech to try to deal with these potentially dangerous drone incursions, with everything from signal-jamming “bazookas” and anti-drone force fields to net-firing quadcopters offering ways to keep rogue machines at bay.Forgoing these technologies, at least for now, officials at Ireland’s Dublin Airport have instead turned to human help to ensure the skies around its main transportation hub stay safe.Specifically, they’re asking the airport’s dedicated group of plane spotters to keep their eyes peeled for rogue drones, and to report any that fly into view.A flier recently handed out to plane enthusiasts at Dublin Airport reads: “As I am sure you are aware, illegally operated drones around the airfield and the flight paths, pose an extreme danger to aircraft and to the operation of the airport itself.”
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As with any major technological disruption, opportunities come hand-in-hand with challenges and potential pitfalls that can have widespread implications.When Elon Musk, the rather outspoken CEO of Tesla and founder of Space X, warned of an imminent attack by drones last year, he probably wasn’t expecting that within just two months two unmanned aircraft would ruin Christmas plans for hundreds of thousands of passengers.Someone browsing the internet from a remote corner of the world now has access to the same information as someone working in Silicon Valley and can use it to make informed business decisions.Only now, years after such cells have been set up, are the legal and regulatory bodies succeeding in finding illegal activities of this sort.Despite the financial sector being heavily regulated, there have been many issues, including the 2010 Flash Crash, Knight Capital losing $440 million due to a trading error in 2012 and more recently, an innocent login glitch at the Tokyo Stock Exchange.(Image: Image Credit: Wichy / Shutterstock)
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Starting this Wednesday, March 13th, it will be illegal to fly a drone within three miles of an airport in the UK, up from the 0.6-mile limit that’s currently in effect.The rule changes, which were first announced last month, more than quadruple the radius of each airport’s drone restricted airspace.The new laws are in response to drone activity that effectively shut down the UK’s second-largest airport, Gatwick, for over a day in the run-up to Christmas last year.However, despite the incident affecting over 1,000 flights and as many as 140,000 passengers, police still don’t know who was responsible.In the aftermath of the incident, drone manufacturer DJI also announced tougher geofencing restrictions for its drones in Europe.Later this year, the UK’s drone rules are set to change once again with measures announced prior to the Gatwick disruption.
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Red Cat, a startup that wants to store drone flight data on the blockchain to guarantee immutability, announced the second beta of its drone data platform today.Jeff Thompson, CEO of Red Cat, says in 2017 he was looking at what was holding back the commercial drone business and the need for a black-box kind of system became apparent to him.The so-called black box is really a flight recorder that tracks data about a flight.He believed he could create a platform to reproduce this capability for drones and store it on the blockchain to take advantage of the immutability of blockchain data.“People want to be able to have some accountability and trackability to be able to start utilizing our information, whether it’s regulators or insurance companies, guys that have to write checks if you do a lot of damage,” Thompson told TechCrunch.This tool could help these interested parties should there be an investigation into a crash, a near-miss with a plane or an incident like the drone that shut down Gatwick Airport in London last year.
“The capabilities of technology are being lost in the wider systemic problems of poor organisational processes, lax regulatory standards and inadequate oversight”The independent Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG) has released an interim report this week that cites a lack of oversight and governance in the use of live facial recognition (LFR) by police forces around the UK.The report focused on the use of the technology in “controlled environments” such as the public test at Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 and 2017, as well as the more recent trial at Stratford transport hub in London.The technology on trial uses NEC’s NeoFace technology to captured images of individual’s faces in public, these faces are then digitalised and searched against police watch list databases for wanted criminals.An officer on location then compares the image against any hit in the database and chooses a course of action.The interim report raises a number of questions ranging from the accuracy of the technology, through to “its potential for biased outputs and biased decision-making on the part of system operators.”
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Investigators from Sussex Police and helpers from the government have leaked their current thinking on last year's Gatwick shutdown, with investigators now leaning towards blaming a furious former or perhaps current employee for causing the aerial melt.Police are suggesting it was an "inside job" at the moment, according to sources speaking to The Times, who say Sussex Police, after conducting 1,100 interviews with witnesses and locals, have concluded the attacks were carried out by someone who must've had intimate knowledge of the Gatwick site layout and security arrangements.The source says the drone flew past the control tower – where the pilot knew it couldn't be photographed due to a ban on devices in the operations centre – and also seemed to hide behind low buildings, where its rogue operator knew it wouldn't be detected by the airport's detection systems.But if that's true, and costly drone-mitigation features can be outfoxed by simply hiding behind a shed for a bit, the airports are surely fighting a losing battle in this war on bored men with drones.
Investigators from Sussex Police and helpers from the government have leaked their current thinking on last year's Gatwick shutdown, with investigators now leaning towards blaming a furious former or perhaps current employee for causing the aerial melt.Police are suggesting it was an "inside job" at the moment, according to sources speaking to The Times, who say Sussex Police, after conducting 1,100 interviews with witnesses and locals, have concluded the attacks were carried out by someone who must've had intimate knowledge of the Gatwick site layout and security arrangements.The source says the drone flew past the control tower – where the pilot knew it couldn't be photographed due to a ban on devices in the operations centre – and also seemed to hide behind low buildings, where its rogue operator knew it wouldn't be detected by the airport's detection systems.But if that's true, and costly drone-mitigation features can be outfoxed by simply hiding behind a shed for a bit, the airports are surely fighting a losing battle in this war on bored men with drones.
The government is to dramatically increase the no-fly zone for drones around airports after huge disruption at Gatwick airport was caused by a mysterious drone just before Christmas.Every time attempts were made to re-open the runaway, the drone appeared once again.Despite an extensive police search and the use of military systems, as well as £50,000 reward, the unidentified drone operators were not caught.The complete shutdown of Gatwick airport during the busy Christmas period and widespread disruption had political implications with the Prime Minister Theresa May warning that the activity was illegal and those caught could face five years in prison.In the UK it used to be illegal to fly a drone in the vicinity (0.6 miles or 1 kilometre) of an airport, as well as fly drones “beyond the direct unaided line of sight”.Flights near crowds of people and near buildings are also prohibited.
The government has announced that it'll be illegal to faff about with drones within a three-mile radius of UK airports, after some plonker at Gatwick messed up everyone's holidays.At the moment, there's a 0.6-mile no-fly zone for drones, but that's clearly not enough.The government is also mulling giving the police more powers to stop and search people they suspect of planning drone shenanigans (anyone with a YouTube channel should be stopped by default, then).Drone manufacturer DJI also recently announced it's updating its geofencing software to keep its drones away from airports.The trouble with drones is that they're really hard to stop.They're small, nimble, and unpredictable -- and there's often no indication of where the person controlling them is.
The UK’s Department for Transport has said today that an expansion of drone ‘no-fly’ zones to 5km around airport runways will come into force on March 13.Anyone caught and convicted of flying a drone inside the restricted zones could face a fine and years in prison.Last month the government said it would tighten restrictions on drones flights around airports, after the existing 1km limit was criticized for being inadequate — saying it believes expanded no-fly zones will help protect airports from drone misuse.The 1km drone exclusion zone around airports, and a 400ft drone flight height restriction rule, only came into force last July.But ministers came in for sharp criticism following the Gatwick Airport drone fiasco when a spate of drone sightings near the UK’s second busiest airport caused a temporary shutdown of the runway and travel disruption for thousands of people right before Christmas.“The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act.
Did you know you have to register your drone with the FAA before you fly in the United States?If you’ve ever been in control of a craft in the sky, I certainly hope you know this rule.Next, the FAA is stepping up the requirements, you’ll need to display your registration number before flight.Going into effect February 25, 2019, all drones requiring registration will have to display the registration number on the exterior of the craft.The concept is straightforward, or at least the explanation is.Your car has a license plate, manned aircraft have a tail number and now your drone has a little license plate of its own.
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