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May 19, 2021

TSA selects Los Angeles Airport to test drone detection systems

TSA selects LAX as a test site to trial detection technologies for drones that enter restricted airspace.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has selected Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to test drone detection technology for tracking drones that enter restricted airspace.

The selection of LAX to detect, track and identify (DTI) drones, also called unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), was said to be driven by multiple factors. These factors include LAX’s diverse aviation operations, high passenger volume, a large number of enplanements and UAS activity frequency.

Drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), could be a potential threat to transportation security when they move closer to certain aviation, surface or related transportation venues.

TSA federal security director for LAX Boyd K Jeffries said: “The selection of LAX as a strategic location to test UAS detection technologies underscores the close working and strategic relationship between TSA and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).

“We are confident that data and information collected here will ultimately benefit and help secure the entire transportation network from the threats that UAS in unauthorised areas present.”

During the trials, the project will make use of security and surveillance technologies including radar, thermal imaging and artificial intelligence.

The equipment will be tested and the test data shared with interagency and industry stakeholders for further evaluation.

TSA expects the test to help find solutions to mitigate the risks, which can be caused by unauthorised UAS operations.

To support the Department of Homeland Security’s role in UAS security, TSA will partner with the airport, local law enforcement and interagency partners including the DHS Science & Technology Directorate.

Work on the LAX DTI testbed, which is being financed by Congress, will start later this year.

Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners president Sean Burton said: “LAX’s long history of leadership and innovation wouldn’t be possible without the continuing strong partnership of the TSA, which has long stood with Los Angeles World Airports as we explore and implement technologies that make travel safer and more secure.

“As a test site for UAS detection technology, LAX will continue to work hand in hand with the TSA and local law enforcement as we collaboratively address concerns associated with unauthorised UAS in protected airspace.”

Earlier this month, TSA selected Miami International Airport (MIA) as a test site to trial drone detection technology.

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