Brücke-Osteuropa / CC0

Drones continue to cause costly delays and confusion at European airports.  The latest event halted traffic at Frankfurt Airport yesterday morning for almost two hours, according to German language media.

A federal spokesperson said that a pilot spotted a drone at about 11:15 am, at which point the German Air Traffic Control (DFS) announced via Twitter that all take-offs and landings would be suspended.  The drone was seen again at noon.   Police used helicopters in an unsuccesful effort to identify both drone and operator. Flights resumed around 1 pm – and authorities continue to investigate the incident.

This is not the first time that flights have been suspended due to drone sightings at Frankfurt Airport.  Last May, the airport was shut down; February 8 last month, it was shut down again in what authorities deemed a “targeted disruptive action.”  In total, reports the German media, Frankfurt had 28 drone sightings last year.

The most recent airport closure affected North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Armin Laschet, who’s plane could not land in Frankfurt and was diverted to Cologne.

Since the 2018 Gatwick airport incident, a deliberate attack timed at the heaviest travel season of the year, drone incidents have become more common: and the costs are heavy for travelers, airports, and the drone industry.  While drone defense and security systems exist and are developing rapidly, they have not yet been effectively implemented at most international airports; and stakeholders are demanding action from lawmakers.

It is unknown whether laws such as the proposal for  Remote ID for Drones in the U.S. would do anything to limit bad actors with intention from disrupting airport activity.

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