LOS ANGELES (AP) — Drone detection technology is now being tested at Los Angeles International Airport, federal and local officials said Thursday.
The technology detects, tracks and identifies drones entering restricted airspace around LAX, which is the second U.S. airport to test the system, said Keith Jeffries, the Transportation Security Administration security director at the airport.
Miami International Airport was selected in 2021 as the first test site.
U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, said that according to the Department of Homeland Security there have been 2,000 drone sightings near airports since 2021.
“The most obvious risks to our airports and the traveling public is the difficulty pilots have seen and avoiding drones while flying,” Roybal-Allard said. “The mere sight of a drone at an airport can cause significant disruption.”
Last year there were 50 reports of drone sightings and so far this year there have been 38 sightings within a 10-mile radius of LAX, said Justin Erbacci, chief executive officer of Los Angeles World Airports, the city’s airports department.
Drones pose a clear and present danger to airport security, Erbacci said.
“Whether a drone operator is naive or acting maliciously, we know any incident where a drone comes in contact with an aircraft, whether accidental or purposeful, can be devastating for airports, passengers and to our communities,” he said.
Addressing the past drone sightings near LAX, Jeffries said that most were “folks having fun” with a new toy.
“Thank goodness we haven’t found anybody that has bad intentions up to this point but we need to be prepared in the event that that happens,” he said.