FAA tests technology to counter drones

Washington- The Federal Aviation Administration is testing anti-drone technology that would counter drones flying within a five-mile radius of select airports.

The technology is supposed to detect radio signals from drones operating too close to airports.

FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker made the announcement at a drone safety hearing before the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation on Wednesday.

The FAA is partnering with information technology company CACI International headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

In a statement the FAA says it “signed an agreement this week to assess the safety and security capabilities of CACI’s product.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, who has spoken with the company’s experts, said he was told the tracking technology “can pinpoint the drone operator and “force the drone to land.”

The FAA says a steep increase in reports of small unmanned aircraft in close proximity to runways is presenting a new challenge.

Whitaker told the committee the agency receives about 100 reports per month from pilots reporting drone sightings.

“One hundred a month — that’s 1,200 a year — and so far you’ve cited there’s been about 20 enforcement actions. That seems very low,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Florida, underscoring the agency’s challenge in penalizing rogue drone operators.

The FAA says it does not yet know how many airports or which airports they will test the technology at.

The agency does not have a time line for how long the research will last.