The Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority announced this week that it will be conducting a trial of a new counter-RPAS technology. Partnering with Nav Canada, the airport authority will employ the Obsidian Counter UAS System, a system developed by the British company QinetiQ and offered through its Canadian subsidiary.

The Obsidian system uses micro-Doppler radar and can detect drones as small as palm-sized. It reportedly can distinguish between a drone and a bird by detecting vibrations that only a machine would generate.

The announcement coincides with the release of an interim report on the findings of a recent study by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on UAS Mitigation at Airports, composed mainly of U.S. aviation industry and government officials, but including Nav Canada’s president and CEO Neil Wilson, the only Canadian on the 13-member task force.

“The threat of UAS intrusions introduces great risk and highlights the need for solutions that can safeguard airports from rogue UAS and this potentially disruptive technology. Recent UAS incidents at airports raise concerns of gaps in safety and security and underscore the need for airports to have clear policies to manage these incidents,” according to the report. UAS is an acronym for Unmanned Aircraft System.

Added Nav Canada’s Wilson, “Establishing drone security measures at airports is a crucial component to mitigating risks and maintaining the safety of our skies. Collaborations like this one are crucial to developing policies and practices that ensure drones are safely integrated in our airspace.”

Photo by Caleb Woods