TSA, LAX begin testing new technology that helps detect drones

Through a partnership with the TSA, LAX becomes second airport chosen to test new drone detection technology.

Ashley Mackey Image
Friday, August 26, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

Through a partnership with the TSA, LAX becomes second airport chosen to test new drone detection technology.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's a dangerous problem at one of the busiest airports in the country. Last calendar year there were 50 drone sightings at Los Angeles International Airport and for this year, there have already been 38. LAX officials said drones pose a significant safety and security risk.

"If a drone was to enter the space as you see with the aircraft taking off and landing, and a pilot having to make a quick decision and divert from that flight path that he or she is on that could be a huge issue for both the safety of the passengers, the safety of the folks on the ground, it just creates all types of challenges," said Keith Jefferies, the federal security director for TSA at LAX.

Now, the TSA is getting involved. Through a partnership with LAX, the TSA has begun testing drone detection technology designed to detect, track and identify drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems. LAX is only the second airport to be chosen as a testing location. With the new technology, they can not only detect the drones, but they can also see what the drone sees if it has a camera and identify where the pilot of the drone is.

"I can't think of a better place to test technology, learn from it, validate it and verify it and then determine if it's effective and suitable to not only detect track and identify drones, but then help us with all the other airports nationwide," said Jim Bamberger, a TSA capability manager.

LAX officials said, they've had to rely on pilots reporting the sightings to document how many drones have come in to the LAX airspace. You may remember reports of what appeared to be a man seen flying on a jet pack. This new technology would be able to quickly identify such activity.

"Now we're able to detect every single drone that comes, not only in the airspace but around us, so drones that aren't a danger, we can still detect them to see if they ever will become a danger," said Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Aiports.

According to officials, Congress needs to reauthorize the program by October 5 or the program could potentially disappear.

Follow Ashley on social media:Facebook.com/abc7ashleyTwitter.com/abc7ashleyInstagram.com/abc7ashley