The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CACI International to find safe procedures and processes to operate technologies to detect rogue drones or unmanned aircraft (UAS) flying close to airports.

Under the partnership, CACI International’s prototype detection technology, SkyTracker, was tested at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) over five days to examine whether it can help detect drones in the vicinity of airports.

During the five-day period, 141 operations were conducted, of which 72 were with a UAS on the ground and 69 were with various small UAS in flight.

Over the next few months, engineers from FAA, DHS, CACI and the University of Maryland (UMD), which was a partner in the assessment, will compile data for a final report to be published by August.

The initiative was taken against the backdrop of the threat posed by an increasing number of UAS near airports or manned airplanes.

FAA stated every month it receives more than 100 reports from pilots and others who spot UAS flying near an airport or a passenger plane.

"The explosive growth of the unmanned aircraft industry makes evaluating detection technologies an urgent priority."

FAA UAS integration senior advisor Marke Gibson said "The explosive growth of the unmanned aircraft industry makes evaluating detection technologies an urgent priority.

"This research is totally aimed at keeping our skies safe, which is our number one mission."

The drone detection process includes CACI’s proof-of-concept system, which uses radio frequency sensors at strategic locations around an airport. When sensors detect frequencies, it triangulates the signals and identifies the location of the UAS and its operator.

CACI International US operations president John Mengucci said: "The results of testing under our PathFinder agreement with the FAA at Atlantic City International Airport demonstrate that CACI’s proprietary system, SkyTracker, performed as designed.

"SkyTracker successfully identified, detected and tracked UAS in flight, and precisely located drone ground operators, all without interfering with airport ground operations. "

With the partnership signed with DHS in December, FAA also aims to achieve safe integration of UAS into the US aviation system.

The FAA started a registration process for hobbyists who fly their drone, weighing over 0.55lbs and less than 55lbs. More than 342,000 people have currently registered their drone with the agency.

Image: FAA, DHS and CACI collaborate to detect rogue drones in vicinities of airports. Photo: courtesy of Capricorn4049 / Wikipedia.