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Drones in Japan

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Japan to install drone detectors at airports

Government plans to install system ahead of 2020 Olympics

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has decided to install a system that detects unauthorised drones flying above airports. Such drone flights have been causing trouble for airlines operating flights both at home and abroad. The system is said to be capable of detecting drones flying at altitudes beyond what the naked eye can see. The ministry plans to install the system at several airports as early as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Flying drones in the vicinity of airports is banned under the Japanese aviation law and other regulations.

The ministry has not revealed the details of the system for security reasons. However, a person familiar with the system said it can detect the location of a drone by detecting a signal transmitted by the device and the related information is displayed on a surveillance monitor. The system is capable of detecting a drone flying 100 meters above the ground or higher, or a drone being operated in a remote aerial zone such as outside the premises of an airport. The system is expected to be deployed at airports including Haneda, Narita and Kansai.

An experimental trial was conducted at an airport in Kochi Prefecture this summer and the ministry included about ¥200 million for the system’s installation in its budgetary requests for fiscal 2020.

A total of more than 60 flights were delayed or forced to change their destinations on Thursday and Oct. 19 combined, when reports were made that drones were seen flying over Kansai International Airport.

In December last year, drones were spotted above Gatwick Airport in London, leading to intermittent shutdowns of the runway for several days.


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