Antaira Managed Switches Bring Advanced Connectivity to Airport’s Anti-Drone System

Digital 3D Shield Protects Restricted Airfield from Rogue Drones

Antaira Technologies recently partnered with a Utah-based airspace security and defense company to help implement a digital 3D protective shield to counter illegal entry by drones into a restricted airfield.

Because connectivity was critical to the system’s responsiveness, Antaira LMX-1202G-SFP-T Gigabit-managed Ethernet switches were deployed inside multiple tall pillars surrounding the protected airspace.

The switches link together dozens of IP video surveillance cameras, computers, and drone detection radar systems to the airport’s central control station.

Drone Dangers

Drones vary in sizes and weight, yet even a small drone can be dangerous when sharing the same airspace as planes. For instance, if a drone is sucked into a jet engine, it has the potential to cause far more damage than a bird strike since it is constructed of sturdy plastics and metals, plus contains high-capacity batteries.

Even if the drone doesn’t get into an engine, a high-speed physical collision risks damage to a plane’s body or windshield. Another big risk is radio frequency interference from drones. If this happens, pilots can lose control of the plane. Airports have shut down flights when a drone was sighted for precisely these reasons. In December 2018, for instance, the Gatwick Airport in London was shutdown when a drone flew into a restricted airspace.

In response, army and police teams were dispatched to Gatwick, and more than 1,000 flights were cancelled with 140,000 passengers left on the ground. It was later reported that airlines lost approximately $50 million due to the security breach.

Creating Protective 3D Shields

The goal of the Utah project was to prevent a Gatwick-style incident. Using a combination of radar and high-resolution video, the airport’s 3D shield is designed to act as a countermeasure that detects unauthorized or “flyaway” drones that enter the perimeters of the restricted airspace.

Once detected, the shield alerts security personnel of the breach, and then automatically launches a protective “net drone” that will chase down, catch and retrieve rogue drones using a net. This approach means the rogue drone isn’t going to crash on any bystanders on the ground, and because the captured drone isn’t typically damaged, airport security has the forensics needed to possibly identify the operator.

LMX-1202G-SFP-T 12-port gigabit Layer 3 Ethernet switch

During the six month bidding process, Antaira provided the system integrator with multiple switches of varying sizes and port counts until settling on the LMX-1202G-SFP-T 12-port gigabit Light Layer 3 managed Ethernet switch. Besides the high port count to connect the system’s embedded computers, radar management systems, and cameras, the LMX-1202G-SFP-T is compact, DIN-rail mountable, and offers the convenience of 30W PoE in eight of its 12 ports to power connected devices.

More importantly, it is industrial hardened to withstand extreme shock and vibration, plus it can be safely located outdoors in an enclosure. Its operating temperature range of -40°C to 75°C (-40°F to 167°F) coupled with IP30 protection allows the switch to be installed in Utah’s diverse climate which can vary from 90°F in the summer to freezing in the winter.

In addition, the LMX-1202G-SFP-T permitted a ring network to be easily configured, so the switches could communicate with each other, as well as with the other devices on the pillars, and with the airport security command center which can now remotely access the switches for updates or changes.

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