Airports under a microscope - Group 4 - 2018/2019, Semester B, Quartile 3

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Contents

Airports

Commercial airports

Introduction

In this section, we will take a look at commercial airports and inspect the aspects of such airports that might affect our decision model for unwanted UAVs. Here, we define commercial airports as airports where the main purpose is to earn money by transporting passengers, transporting cargo loads or selling goods/services on the airport itself. We will first be looking at some general commercial airports in the Netherlands and compare these airports to find differences between them that might be critical for the decision model. After that, the USE stakeholders of commercial airports will be discussed. Furthermore, we will do a risk analysis of the types of drones that might be expected for this type of airport, which might be different for any type or airport. Lastly, we will look at the requirements that an anti-UAV system for commercial airports should adhere to.

General

In the Netherlands, there are quite a few commercial airports ranging from very large airports with almost 71 million passengers a year to smaller airports of 250 thousand passengers, or less, yearly [1]. Larger airports might have a bigger budget to invest in an anti-UAV system. However, such airports might also be more prone to UAV hindrance or attacks. Next, to that, the requirements of an anti-UAV system also might be very dependent on the attributes of the airports, which could vary a lot between certain airports. Apart from moving around passengers, some commercial airports also move around huge amounts of cargo loads yearly [2], while others might not work at all. Amongst other things, the area of an airport, the number of runways at an airport or certain rules or regulations of an airport can all be a factor on deciding the right type of anti-UAV system for a certain airport. This is why it is so crucial to investigate different (commercial) airports that are located in the Netherlands.

In the section, five of the commercial airports located in the Netherlands will be inspected briefly. We will not do a full analysis of these airports as we think this will not be of any help our decision model, but we will be looking at the attributes of the airports that might be interesting or be of any impact to our decision model. The commercial airports that will be looked into are:

  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
  • Eindhoven Airport
  • Rotterdam The Hague Airport
  • Rotterdam The Hague Airport
  • Maastricht Aachen Airport

The reason for choosing these five particular airports is because they differ quite a lot from each other on different attributes, such as the size of the airport, the number of passengers transported yearly, the amount of cargo load being transported yearly, the layout of the airport et cetera. Furthermore, we feel like these five airports cover/generalise to most of the commercial airports located in the Netherlands and cover most of the different attributes that might impact the type of anti-UAV system being used.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the largest airport of the Netherlands and was the third busiest airport of Europe in 2017. [2] Schiphol is home to Dutch airlines KLM, Martinair, Corendon, TUI fly and Transavia. The airport has 6 runways with a total length of 19467 metres. [3] In figure 1 an overview and the locations of the runways of Schiphol can be observed with the names and lengths of each runway included.

Missing image
Figure 1: General overview of the layout of Schiphol and overview of the runways of Schiphol. [3]


Table 1 below contains general facts of the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, mainly of 2018.

Table 1: General facts of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol [3][4]
Passenger amount 2018 70.956.604 passengers
Amount of airplane movements (departure/arrival) in 2018 499.446 movements
Total cargo load 2018 1.716.982 tonne
Amount direct worldwide destinations 322 destinations
Area of the airport 2.787 hectares
Arrival peak hour capacity 106 movements
Departure peak hour capacity 110 movements
Amount runways 6 runways


In the table, we observe that Schiphol had a total of 499.446 movements in 2018, that would be an average of around 1.367 movements every day. Keep in mind that this is both arrivals from and departures on Schiphol and includes both passenger flights and cargo flights. Then with the six runways the airport has, this would mean that with an average of 1.367 movements every day, each runway would, on average, observe an aeroplane movement around every 6 minutes. Note that this is a calculated average, and this number of movements on each runway can be higher during peak hours. This, in turn, means that at any given point in time, Schiphol is extremely busy and loaded with at least thousands of passengers. Hence any form of interception with UAVs would already cause major issues. Let alone the damage that could be caused by any forms of terrorist attacks with the use of UAVs.

Eindhoven Airport

Eindhoven Airport is the second largest airport in the Netherlands in terms of passengers [5]. Furthermore, Eindhoven Airport is also the home base of all military transport aeroplanes of the Royal Netherlands Air Force [6]. In total, there are nine large military aeroplanes, which are usually used after a natural disaster[7]. The latest example being hurricane Irma, who caused huge amounts of damage in the Dutch colonies Sint Maarten and Curacao [8].

In Figure 2 below, the general layout of the Eindhoven Airport is depicted, showing mainly the single runway the airport has and the parking spots of the aeroplanes currently not in use.


Missing image
Figure 2: General overview of layout of Eindhoven Airport [9]


Table 2 below contains general facts of Eindhoven Airport, mainly of 2018.

Table 2: General facts of Eindhoven Airport [1]
Passenger amount 2018 6.237.755 passengers
Amount of airplane movements (departure/arrival) in 2018 38.642 movements
Total cargo load 2018 0 tonne
Amount direct worldwide destinations 81 destinations
Area of the airport 639 hectares
Amount runways 1 runway


As can be seen in the table, Eindhoven Airport has only one runway, which means that both the commercial aeroplanes and the military aeroplanes depart and arrive using the same runway [10]. Eindhoven Airport is also experiencing an enormous growth at the moment, with an increase in served passengers of almost 10% [11]. The military departures occur so infrequently compared to the commercial airlines that their contribution to the number of departures from Eindhoven Airport is negligible. The operating hours of Eindhoven Airport are between 07:00 in the morning and 24:00, so midnight, 365 days per year. This corresponds to an aeroplane either departing or arriving on the runway every 10 minutes on average[10].

Some critical remarks regarding the safety hazards of Eindhoven Airport are that it is, in fact, the second largest airport in the Netherlands in terms of passengers. This means that a sudden shutdown due to a drone would have enormous consequences for many passengers. Furthermore, due to the fact that the airport only has one runway, it has a single point of failure to prevent all aeroplanes from both taking off and arriving. If one drone would be flying around this runway, then the whole airport has to be shut down. On top of that, the fact that Eindhoven Airport houses military transport vehicles increases the risk of drone attacks. Imagine that there would be a sudden natural disaster and these aeroplanes need to depart to aid the people in the disaster area, then it takes only one drone to delay this much-needed help by several hours. This could be the hours that would mean life or death for multiple people in the disaster area. Lastly, the giant and continuous growth of Eindhoven Airport could also pose problems in terms of drone safety. If the growth is not adequately regulated and safety measures are not adequately investigated, the growth could increase the possibility of a drone causing problems at Eindhoven Airport.

Rotterdam The Hague Airport

Rotterdam The Hague Airport is the third largest airport of the Netherlands with respect to served passengers served, with a total of 1.943.733 in 2018[12][13]. As the name suggests, it is located between the Dutch cities Rotterdam and The Hague. Due to the airport being located close to the political heart of The Netherlands, Rotterdam The Hague Airport functions as the airport of the government [14]. Important international guests use this airport to go to the Netherlands, for example to the Nuclear Safety Summit in 2014 [14].

Missing image
Figure 3: General overview of layout of Rotterdam The Hague Airport. [15]


Table 3 below contains general facts of Rotterdam The Hague Airport, mainly of 2018.

Table 3: General facts of Rotterdam The Hague Airport [1][16]
Passenger amount 2018 1.943.733 passengers
Amount of airplane movements (departure/arrival) in 2018 53.322 movements
Total cargo load 2018 19 tonnes
Amount direct worldwide destinations 50 destinations
Area of the airport 222 hectares
Amount runways 1 runway


What is unique about this airport is that it has much more departing and arriving aeroplanes than Eindhoven Airport, whereas Eindhoven Airport serves three times as many passengers. The reason for this is the type of flights that occur at the airport. Rotterdam The Hague Airport also houses many flying schools. Here, people train their flying skills to acquire a flying permit as a hobby. These flying lessons are also the main contributor to the number of movements, with a total of 13.761 [17].

From this information, we can deduct some safety hazards of Rotterdam The Hague Airport. It is quite a small airport with not a lot of passengers, which means that fewer passengers will be affected, should the airport be shut down due to a drone in the area. However, there is again only one runway. This results in a single point of failure to prevent all aeroplanes from both taking off and arriving. If one drone would be flying around this runway, then the whole airport has to be shut down. Furthermore, the airport also serves a lot of passengers who are internationally and politically important, which increases the risk of someone who wants to disrupt this politically important person by delaying his or her flight. What is also important to note is that there are a lot of flying lessons and recreational departures and arrivals. In general, these planes are a lot smaller and are flown by less talented pilots than commercial aeroplanes. This means that a drone would do more damage to the smaller aeroplane. Furthermore, the lesser talented pilot is more likely not to know the rules correctly, and would most likely handle more poorly in the event of a drone in the area. The consequences of a drone collision to a small aeroplane would, however, be smaller in terms of people affected by the incident.

Maastricht Aachen Airport

Maastricht Aachen Airport is one of the larger airports of the Netherlands with 274.986 passengers in 2018[1], however, this is really small compared to the number of passengers of Schiphol in 2018. The airport is located eight kilometres north of Maastricht.

In Figure 3 below, the general layout of the Maastricht Aachen Airport is depicted, showing mainly the single runway the airport has.

Missing image
Figure 4: General overview of layout of Maastricht Aachen Airport. [15]

Table 4 below contains general facts of Maastricht Aachen Airport, mainly of 2018.

Table 4: General facts of Maastricht Aachen Airport[1][18]
Passenger amount 2018 274.986 passengers
Amount of airplane movements (departure/arrival) in 2018 15.781 movements
Total cargo load 2018 124.676 tonnes
Amount direct worldwide destinations 25 destinations
Area of the airport 450 hectares*
Amount runways 1 runway

*Approximation of area calculated using a google maps area calculator [19]

Groningen Airport Eelde

Groningen Airport Eelde is the fifth largest airport of the Netherlands in terms of passengers with 228.698 passengers in 2018[1], however, this is again really small compared to the number of passengers of Schiphol in 2018. The airport is located close to the village Eelde in Groningen. The airport has only one runway in use, the second (smaller) one depicted also in Figure 5 below, is not in use anymore.

Missing image
Figure 5: General overview of layout of Groningen Airport Eelde. [15]


Table 5 below contains general facts of Groningen Airport Eelde, mainly of 2018.

Table 5: General facts of Groningen Airport Eelde[1][20]
Passenger amount 2018 228.698 passengers
Amount of airplane movements (departure/arrival) in 2018 31.413 movements
Total cargo load 2018 0 tonnes
Amount direct worldwide destinations 11 destinations
Area of the airport 400 hectares*
Amount runways 1 runway

*Approximation of area calculated using a google maps area calculator [19]

Most important attributes

The most important attributes of commercial airports. Where, with 'most important', we refer to the importance of the attributes of commercial airports concerning anti-UAV systems. If we look at the general facts of each airport, then the two main attributes that could influence the chosen type of anti-UAV system for a certain airport, are the size of the airport and the number of aeroplane movements yearly. The amount of runways an airport has is correlated to the size of an airport and the amount of passengers/cargo moved yearly is correlated to the amount of airplane movements yearly. As for size, an anti-UAV system should be able to cover the whole range of a massive airport (i.e. Schiphol airport), but for another relatively small airport (i.e. Maastricht Aachen airport) that same system might be disproportionate or too excessive and simply not affordable. On the other hand, the number of aeroplane movements, which is correlated to the number of passengers/cargo moved, might make an airport more/less susceptible to UAV attacks. Furthermore, the number of aeroplane movements of an airport might make the airport more/less susceptible for a UAV of a certain category to attack, which some anti-UAV systems could be specialised for. Since both attributes, size and amount of aeroplane movements, differ a lot between some of the commercial airports discussed above, these attributes are important to take into account for the decision model.

USE stakeholders

There are quite a number of stakeholders involved with commercial airports. Think about passengers, air carriers, shops at the airport, residents near the airport et cetera. All of these stakeholders have a goal for the airport and might have requirements for a potential anti-UAV system that such an airport might deploy. As a simple example, residents near the airport want to minimise any hinder or do not want to be affected in any way by the airport nearby, and therefore also want to minimise any hinder of an anti-UAV system deployed at the airport nearby. There are many more such stakeholders that want to minimise any hindrance an anti-UAV system could cause for their goals, concerning the airport. Therefore, an analysis of the stakeholders and their requirements for a potential anti-UAV system is important. In table 6, a list of stakeholders for commercial airports is given, including a definition or example of the stakeholder, and whether they belong to the user, society or enterprise group.


Table 6: Stakeholders of commercial airports [21]
Stakeholder Definition/Example(s) USE
Passengers Transferring passengers User
Air carriers Passenger and cargo carriers Enterprise
General aviation users Air taxi, corporate transportation, etc. User
Airport organization Management and staff with responsibility for operation of the airport Enterprise
Investors and bond-holders Individuals/companies investing in the airport or holding bonds with the airport Enterprise
Concessionaires Providers of services to passengers such as food or retail Enterprise
Employees Employees of the airport Enterprise
Service providers Providers of services to airport/air carriers such as fuel Enterprise
Government Responsible for infrastructure, security, etc. Society
Communities affected by airport operations Residents near the airport Society
Ground transportation providers Buses, shuttles, taxi's, rental cars, off airport parking services, etc. Enterprise

Each of these stakeholders has goals for the airport, and therefore a potential anti-UAV system must not hinder this goal. By listing the goals of the stakeholders, we can use these goals to set up requirements for anti-UAV systems for commercial airports later. Since most of the goals of the stakeholders with the same USE group overlap, we will summarise a list of the goals of each of the USE groups instead of every single stakeholder, to keep it comprehensible and easy to understand. This list is given below.[21]

Users goals for commercial airports

  • Moving passengers quickly and conveniently
  • Ensure all services are on-time
  • Keep fares as low as possible
  • Serve as an access point and ensure good availability and high equipment capability (for general aviation)

Goals from enterprises for commercial airports

  • Ensure all services are on-time
  • Keep costs of services as low as possible
  • Maximise the number of passengers and cargo loads transported
  • Ensure safety of all services
  • Maximise the number of destinations served
  • Provide secure jobs and wages
  • Maximise users satisfaction
  • Minimise hindrance and noise for the area around the airport
  • Maximise environmental sustainability

Goals from society for commercial airports

  • Minimise noise and hindrance for the area around the airport
  • Minimise emissions
  • Ensure airports can accommodate growth
  • Ensure safety and security of the airport

This list shows a lot of the goals of each of the USE groups, which a potential anti-UAV system should not affect, or at least minimise any hindrance of those goals. These goals can translate to requirements for anti-UAV systems at commercial airports, which will be done later this section.

Risk analysis

Analysing the types of UAVs that are more likely to cause any hindrance/attacks for commercial airports can also form requirements for potential anti-UAV systems. As elaborated on in section drones, there are different categories of UAVs, based on attributes of a UAV. Some anti-UAV solutions might not be able to accurately detect, identify and neutralise UAVs of a certain category. Therefore, might this category of UAVs be present at commercial airports, then it would not be well suited as an anti-UAV solution for this type of airport. On the other hand, some anti-UAV solutions might be specialised for a certain UAV category. If the majority of UAVs that are present at commercial airports are of this category, then this anti-UAV solution might be well suited for commercial airports. Therefore, an analysis of the types of UAVs that might form a threat to commercial airports is important as well, for forming the requirements for a good anti-UAV solution for commercial airports.

Let us take the classes of UAVs C0 to C4 as discussed in section drones as the categories of UAVs we take into consideration. Starting with UAVs of class C0, which is the only class of UAVs that do not require an electronic ID or geo-awareness. This means that the pilot of the UAV cannot easily be tracked, might the UAV fly over an area it is not supposed to. Furthermore, the UAVs in this class have not been programmed with geofencing to stay away from airports within a certain range. Hence, in theory, these UAVs are free to fly over any area the pilot wants. However, most of the (consumer) UAVs (at the moment of speaking, March 2019) in this class have a maximum controllable range of around 100-200 meters and a battery that lasts a maximum of about 15 minutes.[22] So in practice, it is almost impossible for a UAV of this class to ever reach an airport and be of any hinder. Hence this class of UAV will probably not be much of a hindrance for commercial airports. Classes C1 to C4 do require an electronic ID and geo-awareness. So, for any consumer bought UAV, they will be programmed with software that limits them such that these UAVs will not be able to enter a certain radius around the airport. So if consumers do not deactivate this software, then these classes of UAVs should also not be of any hindrance to commercial airports.

Lastly, there is the class of privately build UAVs, for which the hobbyist builders themselves decide whether or not to implement any form of geo-fencing. This class of UAVs seems to be the most troublesome, as they are privately built, hence do not adhere to any rules necessarily. These drones also could be build of any weight and are not limited to reach a certain speed. Therefore it is not possible to assign them a drone class. Given that commercial airports, mostly, are hectic and crowded places, and might be a good target for anyone want to cause considerable damage to many people, these privately build UAVs could form a significant threat to commercial airports, especially if they are armed. Since a commercial airport would be such a good target for anyone that wants to cause a lot of harm/hindrance, it is also to be expected that privately build drones are very popular for these airports. So in short, the types of UAVs that can be expected at commercial airports are the ones of class C1 to C4, if their geo-fencing software were to be disabled, and privately build UAVs which could belong to any of the classes (except for C0). The drones of type C0 simply will not have enough range or enough battery life to cause hindrance to commercial airports.

Requirements for solution

After the investigation of multiple aspects on commercial, we have enough information to form requirements that an anti-UAV system should adhere to for commercial airports. We have discussed general facts of commercial airports, the stakeholders of these airports and what their goals are for the airports, and lastly a risk analysis of commercial airports. This should form a good base of were to be expected for an anti-UAV system at a commercial airport. The list of requirements below takes into account all found results from the investigation on commercial airports and translates them into the needed requirements for commercial airports.

Requirements

  • Be able to take down drones in the entire area of the airport
  • Not interfere with an aeroplane at the airport
  • Take down a hostile drone within 3 minutes, to keep costs as low as possible and flights on time
  • Ensure safety of all services including passengers or any other humans at any time
  • Should not emit/minimise emission of CO2
  • Be able to be expanded to cover a bigger terrain in the future
  • Not be any louder than aeroplanes
  • Not hinder the user's satisfaction
  • Be able to take down any UAV from class C1 to C4

Military Airbases

As of now, there are eight military bases for the Royal Dutch Air Force in the Netherlands \cite{royal}. However, they differ quite a lot in nature due to the housing of different types of aerial vehicles. There are main operation bases, which are the biggest bases. Furthermore, we have a tactical air operations base, which is the air traffic control centre that is used by all military air traffic, air battle management and air surveillance among others. Next, we also have defence helicopter command bases, where most of the attack helicopters are stationed. Then, we also have an air transport base, which is mostly used to transport either infantry or military equipment. Lastly, we also have a common support base, which is currently mainly used for military training purposes. Thus, the eight military bases can be structured as follows:

  • Main Operating Bases
    • Leeuwarden Air Base
    • Volkel Air Base
  • Tactical Air Operations Base
    • Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen
  • Defense Helicopter Command Bases
    • Gilze-Rijen Airbase
    • De Kooy Airfield
    • Deelen Air Base
  • Air Transport Base
    • Eindhoven Air Base
  • Common Support Base
    • Woensdrecht Air Base

Leeuwarden Air Base

Leeuwarden Air Base is together with the Volkel Air Base and the Gilze-Rijen Air Base on of the three biggest military air bases in the Netherlands \cite{leeuwarden_wikipedia_en}. It is one of the two bases that station the F-16s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It has two runways. The Leeuwarden Air Base is mostly used for homeland security when needed. Its main task is to actively monitor the airspace of the Benelux, deploying F-16s when necessary. At all times, Dutch F-16s are on stand-by. Apart from this monitoring, they are also deployed for missions all around the globe. Occasionally, they are also used for training sessions, which occur mostly above the North Sea \cite{leeuwarden_royal}.

Missing image
Figure 6: General overview of layout of military air base Leeuwarden. [15]

Volkel Air Base

Volkel Air Base is, as mentioned before, one of the biggest military air bases of the Rotal Netherlands Air Force \cite{volkel_wikipedia_en}. It is the other bases that stations the Dutch F-16s. With the housing of F-16s comes the task of providing air support and air defence. Just as done in Leeuwarden, the F-16s are most often deployed for monitoring the airspace of the Benelux \cite{volkel_royal}. It is located in the province of Noord-Brabant.

Missing image
Figure 5: General overview of layout of military air base Volkel. [15]

Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen

Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen is one of the smaller military bases and is used mainly for air traffic control. At the moment, its main task is air traffic control \cite{milligen_wikipedia_en}. More concrete, this means for example that this air base checks (from their command-and-control centre) whether an aircraft adheres to its flight plan. If not, radio contact will be established from Nieuw Milligen. In the worst case, the command-and-control centre is capable of deploying tactical air control by scrambling a so-called Quick Reaction Alert. This means that two fully armed F-16 fighter aircraft will be deployed \cite{nieuwmilligen}. Note that this is only a control station and hence, no aerial vehicles are located at this air base. However, for the sake of completeness, we decided to include this air base in the report.

Gilze-Rijen Air Base

Gilze-Rijen Air Base is a helicopter command base of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. These helicopters form a part of the Defence Helicopter Command \cite{gilze_wikipedia_en}. An example when helicopters from Gilze-Rijen are deployed as support for Navy ships. They can, if necessary, also be deployed as fighter helicopters \cite{gilze_royal}. In the case of a major fire, they can also be deployed. The air base is located in the south of the Netherlands. Like all the previously mentioned airports, Gilze-Rijen Air Base has two runways. Among the military aircraft, the Royal Air Force Historic Flight Foundation is located at the air base. Here, a collection of historic military aircraft is stored and occasionally operated.

Missing image
Figure 5: General overview of layout of Gilze-Rijen air base. [15]

De Kooy Airfield

De Kooy Airfield is a helicopter command base as well. It is located near Den Helder, a city in the Netherlands near the North Sea \cite{kooy_scramble}. Consequently, its main task is bringing workers from and to oil rigs located on the North Sea and also houses military helicopters \cite{kooy_wikipedia_en}. It only has one runway and is not used very often.

Missing image
Figure 5: General overview of layout of Airfield De Kooy. [15]

Deelen Air Base

Deelen Air Base is the last of the three helicopter command bases of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It is located in Deelen, a small place in the middle of the Netherlands with about 50 inhabitants \cite{deelen_wikipedia_nl}. Its main task is for practices with helicopters. The main type of practices done in Deelen is communication and cooperation between on one side the helicopters and on one side the military on the ground. The military basis is also often used as a refuelling point for helicopters which are going on a mission abroad. Apart from fuel, ammunition is also loaded on the helicopters. The Air Base has only one runway.

Missing image
Figure 5: General overview of layout of Deelen air base. [15]

Eindhoven Air Base

Eindhoven Air Base is an air transport base, located in Eindhoven \cite{eindhoven_wiki}. As the type of air base suggests, all of the military transport vehicles are stationed here. In total, there are nine large military aerial vehicles, which are usually used after a natural disaster\cite{infograph}. The latest example being hurricane Irma, who caused huge amounts of damage in the Dutch colonies Sint Maarten and Curacao \cite{irma}. From the airport, goods and military were transported to help the people in need \cite{eindhoven_royal}. As described before, the military base uses the same single runway as the commercial aeroplanes. For an overview of the runway, see the section about Eindhoven Airport in the commercial aeroplanes section.

Woensdrecht Air Base

Woensdrecht Air Base is a common support base for the Royal Netherlands Air Force located in the south-west of the Netherlands. The airport has one runway. It is a base that is mainly used for training and logistics and does not house any combat military. As of now, the air base is not operational, meaning that no military aerial depart or arrive as of now from the air base, but for the sake of completeness, we want to mention the presence of this military base.

General description/facts of recreational Airfields in the Netherlands

We distinguish a third main category of airport, which recreational airfields. These locations are often used by pilots-in-training, or for recreational flights. Traditionally meant for small, single prop planes like the well-known Cessna, these airfields often feature short runways. These runways are often simply flattened strips of grass or dirt since the types of aeroplanes that might take off, and land from these airfields do not have stringent requirements for takeoff. Often these airfields are home to one or more local sky-gliding organisations. It is common that also other organisations frequent these airfields, whether they are flight related organisations or not. It is noteworthy that these airfields are also frequently prime locations for drone flight. Being large, open spaces away from any residential areas, the aspects that make these places into great locations for recreational or educational flight, also make them suitable for drone flight.

Airfield Malden

Airfield Malden is an airfield mainly used for glide flights near Malden and Nijmegen in the Netherlands. It is situated on a large open field in the forests. In existence since 1954, Malden Airfield is mainly used by two glide flying organisations. These are the NijAC (Nijmeegse Aeroclub), the local glide aero sport club, and NSA Stabilo, which is catered towards students from local educational institutes. The Airfield is relatively small and features a reasonably popular restaurant. Given the location of Malden Airfield in the forest, there are many cycling routes and hiking trails that either start, end, or pass by Malden Airfield and thus by the restaurant. This, plus the entertainment provided by watching planes take off and land, makes Malden Airfield into a fairly popular location for not only flight related visitors but also cyclists, hikers and the general population. The Airfield in Malden has two runways. A fleet consisting of 9 glide planes including a motorised one is stationed at the Airfield. These planes belong to the NijAC as the main group behind the operations at this Airfield. As this Airfield supports mainly the flights of club members of the NijAC, no real full-time personnel is present. The NijAC offers many services to non-members, such as educational glide flying, flying as recreation with one of the club members, or offering their location as a service for non-members flying their plane. It should be mentioned that the services, popularity and reachability of Malden Airfield would make this into a perfect location to fly commercial drones. Larger drones or even RC (radio controlled) model planes could make use of the runways at this airfield, granted that safety is a priority. This information, together with the mentioned fact that this Airfield is frequently visited by many people with non-flight related goals, makes Malden Airfield a unique situation for an anti-drone system. Since Malden Airfield is a prime location for the practice of recreational flight, this might also include drone flight. Organised events like drone races might also attract more business for both the flying clubs and the restaurant. Drone flight is not necessarily something we wish to discourage here permanently, and might be lucrative for all parties involved if we can guarantee safety.

Airfield Terlet

Terlet Airfield is home to the most significant association of gliding flight clubs in the Netherlands, consisting of the following active clubs: Gelderse Zweefvlieg Club, Delftse Studenten Aeroclub, Gliding Adventures Europe, Kennemer Zweefvlieg Club, ZC Deeleen, the EZZC, ZHVC and Zweefvliegclub Ameland. The Airfield has six grass winch tracks, where winches might be used to tug glide planes up to take off speed. Small motorised planes might also be used to tug gliding planes, but only on 1 of the take-off/ landing tracks. Airfield Terlet is larger than the previously discussed Malden Airfield, averaging around 17.000 glide plane take-offs each year. Around 10% of which is done by using a motorised plane as a tug. This is important to note that since different types of planes might incur different kinds of risks for drone incidents. Unlike Malden Airfield, there are no popular cycling routes or hiking trails near the Airfield, and entering the grounds without the supervision of an experienced glide plane pilot or local instructor is strongly discouraged. Reasons stated for this are that the Airfield can be quite dangerous without proper supervision, as planes are taking off and landing and more importantly when a gliding plane is tugged using a ground-based winch, the cable used to attach the plane will fall to the ground after takeoff. This is very dangerous to the uninformed or inexperienced. On the website of the club association, it states that there is a camping ground nearby, meant for use by glide plane enthusiasts and club members. There is no mention of this Airfield being a popular location for drone enthusiasts or non-flight related activities. However, it should be noted that since motorised planes take off and land from Terlet Airfield, it is not a stretch to imagine larger UAVs using the runway as well. This could be a future expansion possibility, and then the question becomes how safety should be guaranteed.

Possible risks

We can conclude that non-flyers and non-flight related clubs or organisations are also often present at recreational airfields. The more people are present. The more people are at risk of a possible drone incident. To get a gliding aeroplane off the ground, often a motorised aeroplane is used to propel it forward by interlinking them. These motorised aeroplanes are often more susceptible to drone incidents. As mentioned before, the attributes of recreational airfields also make them excellent locations for civilian drone flight. Parents might take their children to test out a newly bought drone with a camera and take pictures. These airfields are often located in large, open fields and away from direct residential areas. As drone regulations include that direct line of sight must be maintained with the drone, these types of locations make it easier to follow these, and other, regulations. We conclude that recreational airfields are a right place for recreational drone flight, and thus are more prone for drone incidents including recreational drones.

Recreational Airfield

Introduction

This Section covers recreational airfields. These are defined as airfields, where the main purpose is not to earn money from airlines by enabling them to transport people as a service. Rather, the main purpose is to enable flight for people whose enjoyment is in the flight itself. Concrete examples are airfields where mainly sky-gliding planes are flown, or where pilots make private flights for enjoyment, usually in small aeroplanes. This type of airfield is so different from the commercial type airports discussed before, and they are open to different types of drone incidents involving different categories of drones.

General

In this Section, we look at the various recreational airfields throughout the Netherlands. We will research how these types of airfields influence the requirements for anti-drone solutions, by analysing airport-type specific risks and the perspectives of the stakeholders. Recreational airfields are a platform for recreational flight. Recreational flight is made up of various subcategories, such as flight in glide planes, pilots in training making their first flight hours in small aeroplanes, or simply hobbyist pilots flying their plane for fun. Often, the airfields that support this kind of flight are fairly small, and located in large open fields in forests, away from towns or cities. The characteristics of these locations that make them suitable for recreational flight, also make them good locations for drone flight. This will be elaborated on in the risk analysis at the end of this Section.

Malden airfield

Malden airfield is an airfield mainly used for glide flights near Malden and Nijmegen in the Netherlands. It is situated on a large open field in the forests. In existence since 1954, Malden Airfield is mainly used by two glide flying organisations. These are the NijAC (Nijmeegse Aeroclub), the local glide aero sport club, and NSA Stabilo, which is catered towards students from local educational institutes. The Airfield is relatively small and features a fairly popular restaurant. Given the location of Malden Airfield in the forest, there are many cycling routes and hiking trails that either start, end, or pass by Malden Airfield and thus by the restaurant. This, plus the entertainment provided by watching planes take off and land, makes Malden Airfield into a fairly popular location for not only flight related visitors but also cyclists, hikers, and the general population.

The general layout of the airfield is visible in the aerial photograph visible below.

Malden airfield

As visible in the figure above, the Airfield in Malden has two runways. A fleet consisting of 9 glide planes including a motorised one is stationed at the Airfield. These planes belong to the NijAC as the main group behind the operations at this Airfield. As this Airfield supports mainly the flights of club members of the NijAC, no real full-time personnel is present. The NijAC offers many services to non-members, such as educational glide flying, flying as recreation with one of the club members, or offering their location as a service for non-members flying their plane. It should be mentioned that the services, popularity, and reachability of Malden Airfield would make this into a perfect location to fly commercial drones. Larger drones or even RC (radio controlled) model planes could make use of the runways at this airfield, granted that safety is a priority. This information, together with the mentioned fact that this Airfield is frequently visited by many people with non-flight related goals, makes Malden Airfield a unique situation for an anti-drone system. Since Malden Airfield is a prime location for the practice of recreational flight, this might also include drone flight. Organised events like drone races might also attract more business for both the flying clubs and the restaurant. Drone flight is not necessarily something we wish to permanently discourage here and might be lucrative for all parties involved if we can guarantee safety.

Terlet Airfield

Terlet Airfield is home to the largest association of gliding flight clubs in the Netherlands, consisting of the following active clubs: Gelderse Zweefvlieg Club, Delftse Studenten Aeroclub, Gliding Adventures Europe, Kennemer Zweefvlieg Club, ZC Deeleen, the EZZC, ZHVC, and Zweefvliegclub Ameland. The Airfield has six grass winch tracks, where winches might be used to tug glide planes up to take off speed. Small motorised planes might also be used to tug gliding planes, but only on 1 of the takeoff/ landing tracks. A map of the layout of Terlet Airfield is given below in Figure below.

Terlet Airfield

Airfield Terlet is larger than the previously discussed Malden Airfield, averaging around 17.000 glide plane take-offs each year. Around 10% of which is done by using a motorised plane as a tug. This is important to note since different types of planes might incur different kinds of risks for drone incidents. Unlike Malden Airfield, there are no popular cycling routes or hiking trails near the Airfield, and entering the grounds without the supervision of an experienced glide plane pilot or local instructor is strongly discouraged. Reasons stated for this are that the Airfield can be quite dangerous without proper supervision, as there are planes taking off and landing and more importantly when a gliding plane is tugged using a ground-based winch, the cable used to attach the plane will fall to the ground after takeoff. This is very dangerous to the uninformed or inexperienced. On the website of the club association, it states that there is a camping ground nearby, meant for use by glide plane enthusiasts and club members. There is no mention of this Airfield being a popular location for drone enthusiasts or non-flight related activities. However, it should be noted that since motorised planes take off and land from Terlet Airfield, it is not a stretch to imagine larger UAVs using the runway as well. This could be a future expansion possibility, and then the question becomes how safety should be guaranteed.

USE Stakeholders

As discussed previously, recreational airfields cater to a large variety of user groups, not limited to flight oriented users. As such, the variety of stakeholders in the safety of these airfields is equally large. This Section will identify such stakeholder groups and classify them according to the USE classification.

Stakeholder Definition/Example(s)
Recreational glide flying organisations Organisations using the airfield to offer glide flights to members
Educational flight organisations Organisations offering lessons in flight of motorised airplanes
Other sport organisations Cycling or hiking organisations that are also frequently present at airfields
People wanting to fly recreationally The populace in general with the need for recreational flight
People needing transport The need for people or goods being transported in small planes to land or

take off at places other than the nations largest airports

People wanting to fly drones People living close to the airfields wanting to fly their drone recreationally

in suitable locations

Employees Regular employees of the airfields
Companies Companies wanting to conduct business on the airfield by offering

flights or other services

In the table above, a list of stakeholders in drone flight safety at recreational airfields is introduced. The elements of this list all represent groups that have a stake in safety at recreational airfields, following from the analysis of several recreational airfields in the Netherlands. The interests of these stakeholders play a part in deciding which requirements might be more critical for an anti-drone system at a recreational airfield. Since recreational airfields are usually also prime locations for drone flight, the need to fly drones recreationally is counted as a society stake. The following list sums up the main goals of the various USE categories with regards to recreational airfields.

We see that for the User category mainly safety is of importance. With regards to drone flight, it is essential for the User to be provided with levels of safety not inferior to that in a world or time where no drone flight was present at all. For society, it is of great interest to have these airfields available for flight as recreation, as well as transport to locations not close to major airports. However, it could also be described as a social goal to enable recreational flight with drones by maximising the usable airspace. Enterprise goals are mainly similar to the User goals in that safety is of great importance for companies with a stake in general operations at the airfield, however, maximising the area where drones can be flown safely is also a goal for drone manufacturing companies. In the following section, we further analyse the risk of drone incidents that are specific to this category of an airfield.

Risk analysis

Different types of airfields with different attributes might be at a higher risk of specific drone-related incidents than others. The most obvious elevated risk level exists because almost all recreational airfields are great places to fly drones. There are a number of non-enforced rules for commercial drone flight, one such being the ability to keep a line of sight to the flying drone at all times during operation. When commercial drone flight gets more popular and more affordable, we expect to see the number of such flights rise sharply in large open spaces away from residential areas especially because these rules are easier to adhere to. This is an important aspect for most commercial drone pilots. Other aspects of recreational airfields that might appeal to pilots of 'over-the-counter' drones might be the ease of access to most recreational airfields and the fact that there are often restaurants or cafes on site, altogether making recreational airfields attractive for a commercial visit for other purposes than to fly planes.

Given this expected increase in the presence of commercial drone flight, it is pivotal that an anti-drone system at recreational airfields is able to maintain safety mainly when faced with smaller drones that are commercially available. One might use the argument that these commercially available drones might soon be equipped with a geofencing system, therefore solving a large part of the problem. However, as drone flight is also technically a form of recreational flight, a recreational airfield might not want to permanently prevent drones from flying through its airspace. As described in the USE stakeholder analysis, society, in general, might be a stakeholder in keeping many suitable areas, including these airfields, open for drone flight. Furthermore, according to the drone classification into C0 up to C4 categories, the smaller drones in the C0 category are not required to be equipped with geo-awareness. As described in the Section on commercial airports, many commercially available drones from this category have an operating range not exceeding 200 meters and a battery-time of about 15 minutes. While this might not be enough range nor usage time to cause serious trouble at a commercial airport, it might certainly be enough to cause an incident on a recreational airfield.

It is also important to note that since recreational airfields are less busy, and the drone category we expect to see most is also that which has the least potential to cause damage due to being relatively small, general risks of drone incidents are reduced compared to major airports. Also, the subjective cost of such an incident might be less than that of an incident at a major airport, since a crash of a smaller plane endangers less human lives, and they are in less danger compared to an incident involving a large jet. Combined with the relatively low number of flights leaving from and arriving at these airfields, this all might suggest a lower risk of drone incidents at recreational airfields and might be seen as a reason to not completely inhibit drone flight here.

Requirement for the solution

This Section describes a list of requirements for an anti-drone system to serve as a recreational airfield. These were generated after considering airfield specific drone incident risks and the USE stakeholder analysis for these types of airfields. Note that some of these focus on minimising damage to the drone, as drone flight is also regarded as a type of recreational flight. Also, general environmental concerns are taken into account.


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