Ottawa International Airport Partners with QinetiQ for Testing Drone Detection Technology

The Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority announced its partnership with QinetiQ Canada and NAV Canada to trial drone detection technology – Obsidian Counter UAS System.

The purpose of testing new technology is to counter the potential threat drones pose to airport operations, as reported by Airport Technology. The technology is equipped to accurately recognize and identify the drone features, while avoiding classification of non-drone activities including wildlife movement.

QinetiQ and NAV Canada will work closely with Ottawa International Airport (YOW) to install and deploy the micro-Doppler radar unit of the drone, in order to determine the system’s compatibility in a civilian airport environment.
The trail with Obsidian Counter UAS System of QinetiQ will create new opportunities to test a reliable detection technology and mitigation system at an active airport, the Airport Technology reported, citing Mark Laroche, YOW’s president and chief executive officer. The trial goes perfectly in hand with the recommendations in the BRTF’s Interim and Final reports as well as the Airport Authority’s Drone Incident Protocol, he added.

The trial is meant to see if QinetiQ’s micro-Doppler allows controllers and airport authorities to accurately and timely detect drones or any remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

Assessing the effectiveness of the system will allow the initiation of accurate response to RPAS or drone detection between NAV Canada and the airport authority. The trial will further evaluate compatibility of the systems in an international airport environment, which is prone to interference by various partner systems.

Establishing effective drone security measures in active airport environment is a key to mitigate risks and maintain aviation safety, according to Neil Wilson, CEO of NAV Canada. Such collaborations are develop policies and practices which ensure that drones are safely integrated into the airspace.

The Obsidian system is designed to find small drones, while ignoring other aerial objects, and post detection, the system will alert controllers and the authorities to the potential risks.

First designed for military use, QinetiQ said a deployment of the technology with the British Army detected more than 99% of threats, with less than one false alarm per week.