Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Installs Drone Detection

Panama City Beach, Fla. - Since drones are now a new threat to airline safety, a company called DeTect has expanded their technology and taken it to a new height. DeTect officials told us their past technology could detect bird's interactions with planes. Much like that, their new technology can now detect drones.

"We have an Android cell phone device, so it can turn your phone into a mini drone detection system. We kind of crowd source in a mesh network all of those systems. And then we have the DroneWatcher RF (radio frequency) technology and that is on top of the control tower here at Panama City Beach and that picks up on the communication's between the drone and the controller itself," said Jesse Lewis, DeTect General Manager.

"Today, we have their drone detection system and we use that in partnership with them as a test bed so that we can see when there is drone activity around the airport. So, we can make sure we have and insure the safe arrival and departure coming to and from the airport," said Parker McClellan, Executive Director of Northwest Florida International Airport.

DeTect says it gives them a vantage point that they didn't have before being on the ground.

"We're able to detect out much further range and then the bird radar and drone radar testing that we did or interference with the equipment," said Lewis.

When fully implemented, the system technologies will provide a multi-layers drone detection and defense system.

"The tower gets audio and visual alert if a drone is in the air. We also set up a text message to get alerts to all of the security staff if there is a drone detected at the airport," said Lewis.

Airport officials told us their partnership with detect is a major asset because of their number of safety products they bring to the table.

"The drone awareness because of the number of drones that are flying around today, we really again go back to that safety factor that we like to know when there's drone in and around the approach and departure path for the aircraft," said McClellan.

Detect officials and airport officials told us they're main goal is the public's safety.
   
The next phase they will install is the radar surveillance which they will start installing in May.
 


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