Droning for Security: Unraveling the Potential and Challenges of Passenger Drones in Airports


Passenger drones are advanced versions of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that are able to move passengers around. It is an emerging concept capable of changing the dynamics of the transportation industry. Those companies that develop passenger drones aim at developing systems that are unmanned that are capable of carrying passengers and that could be parked outside houses the same way people park their cars outside their houses or also booked through smartphone applications (Sprenger). Market growth is driven by decline in the manufacturing costs of drones, rapid advancements in technology, increased traffic congestion in urban areas, and growing urban populations. The market is however hindered by safety concerns and the lack of proper regulatory framework. The study, focuses on engineering dissertation help, prepares questionnaires for data collection purposes and distributes them to 100 different individuals working in different airports in the UK. selection of individuals to participate in the study happens through purposive homogeneous sampling. This study explores the potential of use of passenger drones as a mechanism of promoting security in airport and seeks to establish its viability in terms of costs while comparing it to other methods that can be used to maintain security in airports. This study concludes that while passenger drones could be useful in reducing passenger wait times, they are not viable and effective methods of maintaining security in airports. Other methods of maintaining security in airports are cheaper and more effective.

Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Background Information

This section provides background information on the ways through which passenger drones could be incorporated into modes of air taxis for the improvement of services for airport security. We also explore the different challenges that would face such innovations in addition to establishing ways through which the passenger drone innovations could be launched successfully to avoid failed starts.

Over the years, there has been an increased reliance on different types of drones for security purposes. This is informed by the capabilities of drones to offer real-time images and videos in addition to live-streaming live images and videos (Eriksson, 2018). Technological advancements have even made it easy to manipulate drones through smart-phones that use remote controllers. Lin et al. (2018) consider drones as the ideal solutions to the different problems that are faced by traditional surveillance and security methods as they facilitate faster, more efficient and more cost-effective data collection. In contrast to stationary cameras, drones offer coverage that is comprehensive with no blind spots and they can also be safely used in running anti-terror, anti-crime, anti-riot and even anti-piracy control operations with effectiveness and safely (Nassi et al. 2019). Drones are also able to take-off and land anywhere which facilitates rapid response to situations that are critical.


The focus of this paper is on the use of passenger drones to improve airport security. Maintenance of security in airports involves the protection of passengers, airport property, members of staff, and even aircraft from any forms of threats like terrorism, crime and any other forms of malicious harm. Security in the aviation industry takes pulling together material and human resources for safeguarding of civil aviation against interference that is not lawful. Interference that is not lawful could involve sabotage, terrorism acts, threat to life and property, false communications of threats and also bombing (Kierzkowski, 2017). There are very many people who go through airports on a daily basis. That presents opportunities for different forms of crime as a result of the large number of people that are found in one place at a specific time. Additionally, the death rates that are associated to attacks on aircraft are quite high as a result of the high concentration of people on large airlines.

It is worth noting that while technology development for passenger drones is still in the incubation stages, in the coming years, they hold the potential of easing mobility, and that is especially in urban close quarters where there is a gridlock of ground transportation.

The costs of moving passengers are expected to be low going by the goals of Uber. Uber has a goal of testing vertical take-off and landing vehicles this year and in 2023, they will have their first ride officially. In a recent conference held in Los Angeles, Eric Allison Head of Elevate at Uber emphasised on the importance of competitiveness of passenger costs per mile with the variable car ownership costs. He points out that at launch, UberAIR will not be cheap on a cost per passenger and will initially cost $5.73 per passenger mile. In the long run, however, Uber will become cheaper and the costs will go down to $1.86 per passenger mile before finally going down even further to $0.44 per passenger mile. When this happens, using UberAIR will be cheaper.

1.2 Research objectives

1. To compare the effectiveness and efficiency of passenger drones in the maintenance of airport security against other security measures.

2. To determine whether the use of passenger drones in the maintenance of airport security is truly viable.

1.3 Research questions

1. Is the use of passenger drones for maintenance of security in airports a truly viable option currently?

Airport security plays an important role in engendering passengers` trust. Without proper security, air travel would not have been capable of evolving the way it has, over the years. That implies that security is one of the pillars of the aviation industries development and has also played a critical role in the growth of passenger numbers. Airport security brings together all those methods and techniques that are used for protection of passengers, aircraft, staff and different airport properties from different threats like terrorism, crime, malicious and accidental harm. Both material and human resources are brought together to protect civil aviation from interference that is not lawful. Some of the actions that qualify as unlawful interference are threats to property and life, sabotage, terrorism, bombing and even false communications of threats.

There are millions of people who go through different airports in different parts of the world today. That presents a potential target for various types of crimes and terrorism as a result of the large numbers of people at one place at one given time. The large numbers of people in these airports at any given time also means that in the event of an attack, there would be a higher death rate. Maintaining security in airports is aimed at curbing the threats of situations that are dangerous from happening. When there are failures in airport security, the probability of illegal items passing through and dangerous situations increases. Therefore, maintenance of airport security is aimed at protecting airports and entire countries from events that pose threats to human life, providing the general public with assurance of their safety and protection of human life.

Flying routes are used by drug traffickers to transport drugs between different countries. This has with no doubt affected the aviation industry in a negative way in addition to affecting the way of life in different societies where people get hooked to drugs. Airport security also prevents the smuggling of different items like stolen antiques and rare and exotic animals between countries. Since the 1970`s when terrorists resorted to bombings and hijackings as their preferred methods of choice for subversive, militant organisations globally, terrorism has developed into a problem for airlines.

Today, the aviation industry is quite well developed and the skies are shared by very many different aircraft. Large commercial aircraft, general aviation and helicopters are all regarded as a safe mode of transport and are accepted by many. The auto plane was debuted about a century ago by Glenn Curtis. This is a three-seat car that also adds up as an aircraft that has wings that are removable (Priest and Etak Systems, 2019). Ever since, flying cars have been the dream of most aviation and automobile enthusiasts.

1.4 Justification of the study

This study will explore the different ways through which passenger drones can be used to prevent threats and situations that are potentially dangerous from happening in airports which would put the lives of very many people at risk and determine whether they are a viable option. Additionally, the study also explores other options that can be used to maintain and further enhance security in airports for purposes of identifying which solutions are most effective and most cost efficient. In the event airport security is not good then there are high chances of dangerous situations happening and illegal items and threats getting into the aircraft. Passenger drones could serve to reassure safety of travelling members of the public and also for the protection of countries and their populations (Feist, 2018).

There are however, challenges too that are associated to the use of passenger drones that range from the regulations that codify and certify the use of passenger drones, insurance solutions for protection of the safety of passengers and further reduction of the liability of operators, and the production of quantities that are sufficient and that are capable of catching up with demand (Lineberger et al., 2018).

1.5 Theoretical Framework

While passenger drones are widely accepted as technological innovations that could be beneficial to security control in airports, adoption of passenger drones for maintenance of airport security is yet to happen. The security operations within airports could be analysed using organisational type theories. This research focuses on the Total Quality Management Theory which is an overall organisational strategy whose focus is on ensuring maximum satisfaction of consumers and customers. In line with this theory requires organisations and their employees to continuously reassess their roles to facilitate the improvement of business functions. TQM has over the years grown to become a basic business strategy for businesses with aspirations of adequately meeting the needs of their customers. For business survival, organisational commitment to change and development of solutions to different problems facing organisations are quite critical for the survival of businesses. As such, TQM promotes the idea of continuously adopting new technologies in a bid to enhance performance. That is what informs the consideration of passenger drones as a possible security option for enhancing safety within airports and in the long run ensuring that customers are safer and feel more comfortable about their safety and security when within airports.

It is important that managers in airports put into practice the principles of quality in setting goals, and making plans. TQM suggests group-oriented and non-hierarchical oriented management structures and identifies managers as playing key roles within organisations regardless of the structure of the organisations. The managers that should be sought are those who possess the leadership abilities of making necessary changes to ensure quality services within organisations and for customers.

In line with this framework, this study is carried out in a bid to improve security within airports and improve the experiences of passengers in airports in relation to security and safety.

Chapter Two: Literature Review

2.1 Passenger drones

Passenger drones are expected to be either hydro-electric or electric quad copters that could be used to move both people or cargo between on-demand origination and destination points. It is possible to pilot these vehicles either manually, remotely and there is also the possibility that they could be fully autonomous (Lineberger et al., 2018). In the event they are piloted, a licence of certification would be required for the pilot. Passenger drones could only cover short to medium-range distances of up to 65 miles (Ai, 2019).

The general motivation behind the use of drones involves making processes faster and even more flexible while at the same time, improving cost-efficiency and precision (Priest, 2019). The use of drones for commercial purposes, is as such associated with economic opportunities that are quite vast. It is worth noting that while the use of drones as devices for surveillance is already common in security services, their use in transportation devices is to a large extent still in its infancy (Kellermann, Biehle & Fischer, 2020).

Flying using drones has the potential of replacing driving in the globe`s cities which would go a long way in saving the time people spend doing trips and additionally improving the quality of life and productivity (Wolf, 2019). Today, we are currently could be on the verge of the threshold becoming a practical reality after many decades of false starts and false projects. Shrewd airline carriers could utilise the opportunity to upsell their premium travellers on packages that would incorporate rapid transport to and from different airports. There are many improvements promised by passenger drones including decongestion of traffic, improved mobility, reduction of commutes, reduction of pollution and also reduced accidents (Lineberger et al., 2018).

All drones are driven by the general motivation of making processes faster and even more flexible while at the same time improving on efficiency of cost and precision. Use of drones commercially, is as such closely associated with many economic opportunities (Economist, 2020). Logistics through drones will contribute to lower costs for companies in the logistics sector that has been growing rapidly and that is quite sensitive. Passenger drones will also contribute to the improvement of urban traffic relieving already congested streets and further facilitating faster movements in the air.

2.2 Threats Posed to Airports by Drones

The widespread popularity and availability of drones has since become a major source of safety and security concerns to the aviation industry. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation industry in general agree that drones (could) pose significant dangers or threats to airports. Despite this convergence in the idea of the threats, governments and airports are still grappling with figuring out on whom the authority and responsibilities lie with regard to drone security and mitigation technologies (Lin et al., 2018). This lack of clarity on the regulation, responsibility and effectiveness of technologies has seen airports become reluctant to invest in drone security systems. The Federal Aviation Administration, nonetheless, continues to monitor the possible security threats that could arise from the continued proliferation and use of drones in the industry (Gharibi, Boutaba and Waslander, 2016).

Drones pose the risk of colliding with aircrafts (Valente and Cardenas, 2017). Globally, at least cases of aircraft and drone collisions have been reported. While three such collisions did not result in any damages, one that happened in the United States resulted in the wing of a sports biplane being crushed, one in Germany resulted in the wing of a Grob G 109B motor glider crushing and 2 deaths and one in Canada brought about some minor damage (Klenka, 2019). A collision that happened in a restricted area in which drones were not allowed to fly and involving a Boeing 737 while approaching the Buenos Aires Newberry Airport resulted in surface damage. The threat of aircraft and drone collisions have become serious issues with government agencies receiving more reports monthly and about 60% of the incidents occurring in close proximity to airports and a number of occasions necessitating that planes are manoeuvred out of a drone’s way (Eriksson, 2018). Depending on the speed and size of aircrafts and the point of impact, these collisions result in varying degrees of damage, some of which could be catastrophic and fatal (Altawy and Youssef, 2016).

The ignorance or lack of understanding by drone operators on the dangers that flying drones in the vicinity of airports and planes pose is another problem facing airports. Drone incursions (for example drones flying over runways) could cause operations at the airport to be halted- resulting in flight delays, reroutes and massive financial losses (Klenka, 2019). The December 2018 incident at the London Gatwick Airport brought about by drones sighted flying near the airport, and the likely risks they posed disrupted services, forced the airport to cancel over 1000 flights. This is one example of the threats posed to airports by drones flown by ignorant drone operators. It is estimated that, as a result of the incident, about 160000 people missed flights and airport and airlines lost between 25 and 60 million dollars in revenues.

Drones also have the potential of being used to carry out attacks on airports. Airports and aircrafts are high-value targets to terrorists, hackers, nefarious and lone attackers- who can be termed as targeted sources of risk (Prior, 2018). Hobbyists who, as they strive to get pictures, pose relatively low risk to airports can be classified as unintentional sources of risk; which results as a result of their error or negligence (Braithwaite, 2012). This is backed by evidence from the attack on four Russian military bases in Syria using 13 crude rudimentary drones, each of which carried up to 500 grams of explosives. While the bases’ air defence systems managed to bring down many of the drones and there we no reported casualties, this incident outlines the possibility of drone attacks on airports.

2.3 Securing Airports from Drone Threats

Responsibilities and authority, and on whom they lie, are critical elements to securing airports and the airspace against potential drone threats. While government agencies control the airspace, most airports are privately-owned. This results in issues as to who is responsible for the various aspects of ensuring that the airports are secured from the numerous threats that drones pose to them. Airports have very limited capacity and legal authority to mitigate disruptive drones (Nassi et al., 2019). However, through continuous engagements, processes on how to obtain the help and support of the government agencies in dealing with persistent drone threats have been developed.

Education and deterrence through the enforcement of the existing laws, coupled with the drone remote identification rule which they are developing, are one of the efforts by the governments to mitigate the likely risks that drones pose to airports and the airspace (Solodov et al., 2018). Countries and drone manufacturers are trying to educate drone users on the safest ways of as well as the guidelines to follow when operating drones. And as there are some users who might intentionally choose to go beyond the legal limits, governments have also been forced to prescribe severe penalties and punitive actions, which they widely publicize, in a bid to deter such miscreant operators. However, education and deterrence, on their own, have been found to be inadequate (Nassi et al., 2019). This is highlighted by previous incidents, for example the disruption of services at the London Gatwick Airport in December of 2018 which proved that nefarious and/or clueless drone operators could significantly impact on the industry in a negative way.

Airports are defining clear policies and procedures that could help them deal with rogue drones and miscreant drone operators. In these policies, they are outlining the necessary actions they could take if they spot unauthorized drones near the airports or over runways and how the cooperate with state and local law enforcement to deal with drones (Snead, Seibler and Inserra, 2018).

Airports are increasingly adopting the use of counter-drone systems which have detection capabilities (such as radio frequency (RF), radar, acoustics, electro-optical and infrared imaging) as well as interdiction methods (Sedunov et al., 2016). Using these systems, airports are able to detect and even identify UAS and drones that could pose dangers to them (Birch, Griffin and Erdman, 2015; Sturdivant and Chong, 2017). It is estimated that there are more than 500 counter-drone systems that are commercially available to airports today. However, due to the lack of clarity among government agencies and the industry, with regard to what systems are best-suited to various situations since not all technologies can be appropriate or effective in all environments, the adoption and use of such systems have not been as widespread. Consequently, airport regulators, together with other government authorities, are testing and analysing the different commercial counter-UAS solutions in order to come up with standard technologies which airports could adopt and use safely.

2.4 Other airport security measures

There have been a lot of improvements in airport security screening in the recent years. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) were formed after the events of September 11, 2001 with the intention of improving the standards of screening in Airports. These has seen the development of even advanced technologies which have improved screening standards for checking luggage for explosives and also for subjecting passengers to security screening procedures that are even more intense. The previously standardised security measures continue to be administered routinely for all passengers and they include metal detector scans and baggage x-rays. Elevated risk screening has become more common place and it involves explosive trace detection scans, bodily pat-downs and bag searches. The determination of individuals to be subjected to elevated risk screening is on the basis of an individuals predetermined risk levels which are determined using the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening Systems (CAPPS II) and even through random selection (Feist, 2018).

The recent years have seen the development of different interesting methods of maintenance of airport security informed by the need to enhance security in airports, and need for quicker and seamless processing and baggage checks. We explore these other methods used for maintenance of airport security to determine whether the use of passenger drones is a viable option.

2.4.1 Security lanes

These lanes have automatically moving conveyer belts where carry-on bags are placed and scanned by x-ray scanners. Here, before the bags go through the scanners, images of bags in the belts are captured and the images are linked to the x-ray scan as Radio Frequency Identification tags are added to the bins to improve accountability of those items going through the system. Any bags that have items that re potentially dangerous are redirected to a different side which allows the rest of bags to flow smoothly. This goes a long way in improving the experiences of passengers and also their security. The automated screening lanes are able to enhance the effectiveness of security checks while also increasing the efficiency of flow of passengers by up to 30% according to De Lange, Samoilovish & Van Der Rhee (2013).

2.4.2 CT Scanners

Computed tomography presents a possible solution for the next generation of security screening in airports (Wetter, 2013). The main distinction between x-ray scanner solutions and CT scanners is that CT equipment are capable of collecting more data.

2.4.3 Use of powerful body scanners

There is a powerful body scanner currently in the trial stage with the capabilities of scanning passengers as they walk through them and capable of recognising potentially hidden threats even without the passengers having to stay still or removing any of their clothing (Nugraha & Choi, 2016). Through the utilisation of computer learning, these scanners are able to image body heat for purposes of telling the differences between things that are threats and objects that are not threats. All this is achieved with the passengers moving and at no point do they have to stop nor stand still. There are millions of passengers who pass through airports on a daily basis and when it is considered that all these people have to go through security checks, it is apparent that there is a lot of time consumed in the entire process (Gerstenfeld & Berger, 2011). These scanners are capable of cutting down on the amount of time needed to carry out security checks in addition to reducing queues. In the long run, airports end up becoming even more efficient.

2.4.4 Use of e-passports

One of the most recent large-scale advancements in airport security is the use of e-passports. These passports contain chips that are scanned by automatic machines in the different airports in the world (Kundra, Dureja & Bhatnagar, 2014). To a large extent, this reduces the amount of work that airport staff have to do while also minimising the possibilities of human errors in the processes and ensuring that airport security is faster, safer and more efficient.

2.4.5 Terahertz screening

Terahertz screening also has the potential of revolutionising the airport industry. This technology works by the way of sensing heat emissions from the body of an individual and the heat is subsequently used for visualisation of objects that are hidden (Hiromoto, Mori & Sato, 2016). There are however, suggestions that this presents a health risk, even though the developers of these technology, Thruvision, argue that the artificial illumination is not used in these devices which makes them even safer.

2.4.6 Hold baggage screening

While the security procedures that surround individual walk-on luggage are quite common, little is known about hold luggage security checks. Today, x-ray scanners are used to screen suitcases, a process that is rather slow. The slowness is attributed to the fact that x-ray images have to be interpreted which many a times brings about different false alarms (Hattenschwiler, Merks & Schwaninger, 2018).

SEADM, a Spanish technology business has been working on the development of a system that is capable of detecting hidden explosives in air cargo and explosives through the simple analysis of vapour. These are technologies that screen different pieces of cargo in a single step determining the presence of explosives immediately (Isenschmid et al., 2019). This technology is still in the pre-commercial stage and is yet to be put to trial or used in any airport. The technology, however, presents a good solution to enhancement of airport security.

Chapter Three: Methodology

3.1 Introduction

This chapter provides an explanation of the different methods used in the collection, analysis and presentation of data together with those ethical considerations that are factored in. To establish the possibilities of use of passenger drones or transportation of passengers into and out of airports for improvement of security this study adopts a systematic approach. Additionally, primary methods of data collection of data are used for collection of data capable of answering research questions. In the collection of primary data, either specific or exploratory information is collected. Generally, exploratory research tends to be open-minded while specific research on the other hand has a tendency of being precise (Goeman & Solari, 2011). Primary research methods collect data that was never collected previously in distinction to secondary research which involves the analysis of data already collected with the intention of identifying repetitive themes so as to meet the objectives of a study.

3.2 Methods of data collection

This study uses questionnaires as the appropriate tools for collection of data, both closed and open-ended questionnaires. This provides a representative sample from the different stakeholders involved in airport security. Questionnaires provide a means of collection of information that is rather economical (McGuirk & O`Neill, 2016). Questionnaires are sets of questions that are pre-set and that are standard that are presented to different people using a standard order for purposes of obtaining the views of different people (Patten, 2016). There are low costs attached to carrying out studies using questionnaires as in most cases, money will only be spent to print papers and for postage of the questionnaires to different addresses. The researcher does not have to visit every other respondent personally. Through the use of questionnaires, the researcher is able to meet many other respondents, whom ordinarily, they would not have been able to reach (Opie, 2019). Questionnaires also make it possible to reach larger numbers of respondents. For example, in our case, because we seek to gather the views of different stakeholders in airport security, carrying out interviews would be expensive and time consuming as the researcher would have to interview different people at different places spread out across the entire United Kingdom.

In the use of questionnaires, the reception of questionnaires is fast because it is really not necessary to personally visit every other respondent. The other advantage presented by the use of questionnaires is related to the validity of information. The reliability of responses in other primary methods of data collection like interviews is dependent on the investigators who recorded the responses (Castillo-Montoya, 2016). Questionnaires, however, present an opportunity of presenting the responses of respondents in the personal versions of the respondents and also in their languages (Gray, 2019). That minimises chances of researcher’s wrongly interpreting and presenting information.

All is however, not all rosy with the use of questionnaires because they limit the abilities of researchers of carrying out studies that are in-depth (Pozzo, Borgobello & Pierella, 2019).

The researcher had to prepare a properly written introduction statement with the intention of legitimising the study. All those respondents who were involved in the study were assured of their anonymity which was done to affirm to the respondents that at no point would the information they had given be used against them. The questionnaires also had an emphasis that there were neither right nor wrong answers for purposes of reassuring them that they are not stupid.

3.3 Sample size and Sampling procedure

The sample size of this study was made up of 100 individuals drawn from across the entire United Kingdom, from different age brackets and picked through homogenous purposive sampling. Homogeneous purposive samples are samples that are selected for having similar sets of characteristics and even single characteristics (Etikan, Musa & Alkassim, 2016). The homogenous sample in this case was created on the basis of involvement in maintenance of airport security. Often, homogeneous samples are selected when those research questions that the researcher intends to address are specific to the characteristics of particular interest groups, who subsequently, are examined in detail.

The researcher believes that a sample size of 100 is adequate since: each person in the population had an equal chance of being included; it sufficiently represents the population it is drawn from; and therefore, from the results obtained, the study can make true references regarding the population (Malterud, Siersma and Guassora, 2016; Guest, Namey and McKenna, 2017). Also considering the study’s design and objectives; the time, convenience and cost of data collection; the anticipated drop out or withdrawal rate as well as the sufficient statistical power it offers (Sim et al., 2018), the sample size will enable the researcher obtain results that are scientific, ethical and valid (Vasileiou et al., 2018), and which can be generalized to the entire population (Anderson, Kelley and Maxwell, 2017; Boddy, 2016).

3.4 Instrumentation and pre-testing

The development of the questionnaires is on the basis of the literature review. Also, the organisation of the questionnaire is guided by the background information and research objectives. Pre-testing is done for purposes of refining the questionnaires design and also for the purposes of identifying errors which were only apparent to the different people involved with maintenance of security in airports who are the concerned population in this case. There is a standard rule that the questionnaires which are pre-tested are as similar as possible to the final group. Additionally, pre-testing should be done in conditions that are as similar as possible to the conditions in which the final questionnaire will be administered in (Murphy, Mayclin & Richards, 2016). Every other airport security stakeholder involved in pre-testing was excluded from the final questionnaire administration samples.

Pre-testing facilitates the identification of those areas that have an association with the survey research (Willis, 2016). Through pre-testing, researchers are also able to improve the qualities of the data collected by revising literature materials and the methods as well as procedures of data collection to ensure that the questions asked are the right/ appropriate ones and that they do not leave the respondents confused or uncomfortable (Dikko, 2016).

Pre-tests are important since they enable the researcher evaluate the rigor of the instrumentation (questionnaire in this case) and to come up with the necessary or most appropriate measures that will address any identified bias, threats or limitations to the management and procedure of the instrumentation (Kornbluh, 2015) before he conducts the data collection formally. This way, the researcher is able to identify any potential, practical obstacles to the data collection instrument and methods and to remedy them, increasing the social and methodological reliability and validity of the study thereby lending credence to the research (Rimando et al., 2015).

3.5 Ethical consideration

The researcher ensures that all data they collect is at all times protected from access by third parties. Assurances will be issued to participants that identities will always be concealed and their responses are recorded with accuracy and utmost honesty and at no point will those individuals involved be identified by their actual names. Respondents are also assured that the information they provide will never at any circumstances be used against them.

Chapter Four: Results And Discussion

4.1 Years of Experience and the Viability of the use of drones for maintenance of airport security

On how long the respondents had been dealing with or operating drones, 12 responded that they had been operating drones for up to 5 ears, 33 had operated droned for between 6 and 10 years, 21 respondents said they had between 11 and 15 years, those respondents who had dealt with the drones for 16-20 years were 26, while only 8 respondents said they had operated the drones for more than 20 years. These findings are illustrated in figure 1. Drones have, over the years, proved to be important and helpful insecurity surveillance, communication and resolving of emergency situations, and more and more airports have adopted their use. The adoption of the use of drones by airports have necessitated the employment of people to operate and maintain them; and like any other job those dealing with drones have varying levels and years of experience. The more the years the respondents have operated drones, the more experienced they were and hence their improved skills and capabilities (Savkin and Huang, 2019).

Respondents representation of the number of years they spent working with drones. Are Passenger drones’ viable options for improvement of airport security

The respondents did not consider the use of passenger drones as an effective and efficient means of ensuring security in airports.

4.2 Use of other types of drones other than passenger drones to maintain security in airports

Respondents views on whether other drone types are capable of improving security in airports

We asked the participants whether they the normal drones could be used for the improvement of airport security to which they replied yes. In a different question where we asked the respondents whether they thought passenger drones were a viable solution for improvement of security in airports, 91% of the respondents responded no and the remaining 9% responded yes. We further went ahead and asked those respondents who thought drones could be used to improve airport security the different ways they could be used. The common ways that were identified from the respondents include the use of drones for photography in airports, planning and engineering, carrying out inspections, monitoring of any forms of wildlife roaming airports and incident command.

A good number of respondents identified the use of drones for photographic purposes as a good means of maintaining security in airports. Drones are fitted with cameras that are able to take still photographs and even videos when flying providing airport security controllers with an opportunity of identifying any potential threats to security easily. Different programs could be used to capture GPS information which is subsequently embedded into a series of photos after which they are stitched together for provision of single, high dimension two and even three-dimensional images of photographed areas. Drones fly at low-altitudes unlike traditional aerial photography aircraft that have to altitude restrictions of up to 1000 feet above obstacles. The ability of drones to fly at low altitudes makes them capable of capturing images at much lower altitudes with even greater detail which leads to images being clearer (Sappington et al., 2019).

The use of drones to carry out inspections within airports also featured prominently in the responses. Even those drones that are fitted with basic photography equipment provide excellent opportunities of carrying out security inspections within airports. While, traditionally, Precision Approach Path Indicator inspections have been carried out by flight inspection aircraft, it is possible to equip drones such that they are able to check that PAPI units comply with set regulations like angles of transition in line with the specifications of International Civil Aviation Organisation. Drones are useful in providing 3D maps of runways within short time periods for maintenance purposes as their levels of accuracy are high. This facilitates fast identification of potential threats and hazards.

The use of drones to monitor and disperse wildlife like birds that pose serious threats to airports was also recognised as a way through which drones can be used to improve airport security. Airport operators are solely responsible for resolving wildlife threats within the immediate vicinities of airports (Hamabe & Takahashi, 2019). That makes it necessary to possess different tools for controlling wildlife. Teams dealing with Air Force`s Birds have documented the use of drones as an effective way of dispersing birds. Drones operate at low altitudes and as such are highly susceptible to interacting with local fauna. Bird strikes are quite common which is attributed to the ever-growing bird populations, airplanes that are even faster and quieter and the general increment of flights across the globe. The noise produced by a moving drone and even their sight works to scare away live birds.

An interesting development in the use of drones to control birds is the airport bird control drone that was developed by the Drone Bird Company. This is a robotic bird of prey that is controlled remotely whose weight and appearance are realistic like those of other living birds. As a means of propulsion of this bird, flapping wing flights are used ("The Drone Bird Company — Airport Bird Control Drone", 2020).

The respondents also identified the potential of use of drones in control of incidents like accidents happening in airports. In the event of accidents and any other incidents, situational awareness and communication play a very important role. That becomes particularly true in the event of aircraft accidents where rescue attempts are hampered by fuels, sharp metals and energised electrical systems in the vicinity of the accident.

From the responses, it was clear that drones could come in handy as useful tools for Emergency Medical Service, fire and even police units. Drones present platforms of launching low-altitude vision platforms that have the capabilities of delivering data in real-time to incident command staff. In comparison to other traditional aerial tools that are for instance used by police which require longer time periods to reach the scenes of incidents and whose abilities of providing detailed views are limited, drones are capable of being deployed rapidly and in addition are capable of capturing high quality pictures.

4.3 Drones and the threats they pose to aircraft

Respondents views on whether drones pose threats to aircrafts

We further sought to know from the respondents whether drones pose threats to aircrafts and most of the responses revolved around the possibility of drones colliding with aircraft. In line with the responses this possibility is high as a result of the fact that drones are relatively small and with the speeds with which aircrafts fly, the possibilities of aircrafts colliding with drones increase significantly. The fact that these drones are made of metallic components makes this an even bigger problem. If a drone got stuck into the engine of an aircraft, there would be significant problems

4.4 Awareness of drone regulations among different individuals

Awareness of drone regulations among respondents

An enquiry on whether the respondents were aware of the different laws regulating the use of drones established that most of them were actually aware. The regulations in the UK require that pilots of drones have to follow the rules set aside by the Civil Aviation Authority. It is a requirement that commercial drone pilots have to carry drone pilot certificates that are valid and additionally, they can only fly marked and registered drones. They have to get these licences from approved CAA providers. Those individuals who wish to acquire drone permissions are required to undergo rigorous training with a National Qualified Entity (NQE) or Recognised Assessment (RAE) Entity ("Flying your drone safely and legally", 2020).

Barriers to use of passenger drones in maintaining airport security

Most of the respondents pointed out to the possibility of these drones being too expensive to acquire. The Economist estimates that at first, passenger drones would cost the same as supercars whose cost ranges from $200,000 to $300,000 ("Passenger drones are a better kind of flying car", 2020). These costs are rather high and when it is factored that these drones can only carry up to five passengers at every go, the use of alternative means of ensuring security in airports becomes more viable.

It was also pointed out by several respondents that these passenger drones would require specialised equipment for sense and avoid for purposes of preventing collisions. Such equipment is not properly developed according to what we gathered from the respondents. Passenger drones will also most likely bring about headaches in controlling air traffic. That is because, they are designed to fly directly from place to place and do not make use of existing airfields like other conventional aircraft. That would make the directing of these drones even harder, further complicating the management of airborne traffic. That by itself puts the lives of airborne passengers in danger.

Regulators in the aviation industry have the tendency of being risk-averse. What that implies is that while having flights that are fully autonomous is the ultimate goal, there is a high likelihood that the first passenger drones will be fitted with manual controls and some sort of pilot licences will be required to operate them. Companies involved in the manufacture of passenger drones like Volocopter have been working out ways that would facilitate the persuasion of the European Aviation Safety Agency into classifying passenger drones into light sports aircraft which would make it possible for them to be flown by individuals possessing simplified pilot licence`s which do not require as much training. However, for passenger drones to be classified as a new type of aircraft entirely, changes would have to be made to existing rules.

The manufacture of passenger drones would also face significant hurdles ranging from legal to technical hurdles. Significant responses mentioned EHang which is based in Guangzhou that has put its drone the EHang 184 through different paces including flying at 130 kilometres per hour, operating in storms and climbing to altitudes of 300 metres. With these kinds of specifications, they have to demonstrate that their technologies work before regulators of air-safety who would then come up with commercial operation general rules ("The top 3… challenges facing Urban Air Mobility.", 2018).

The threat of terrorism could further hamper the use of passenger drones. Terrorists could resort to cyberattacks like malware and ransomware which would put the lives of different people using these drones at great risk. There are no systems that are safe 100% from cyber-attacks and that means that these passenger drones are not entirely safe from cyber-attacks.

Most of the respondents felt that the contribution of passenger drones to the improvement of security in airports would be minimal and argued that other security control measures were cheaper and more convenient. We sought to establish from the respondents what these other measures were and the most commonly mentioned measures were the adoption of trusted traveller programs, use of biometrics, real time behaviour assessment and real time intelligence and information. In trusted traveller programs, there is a requirement that passengers have to submit to pre-screening processes where their risk levels are assessed. Those individuals who qualify are then required to go through expedited screening procedures within the airports (Boyd et al., 2019). The other option, the use of biometrics involves the utilisation of biometric identification technology for purposes of ensuring the identity of low-risk trusted travellers within airports. Another viable option is the use of real time behaviour assessment techniques whereby, agents with adequate training randomly select passengers for intense screening when their behaviours and answers to different questions with regard to their risk-levels are suspicious and fishy. Airports could also make use of real time intelligence information on changes in the risk-status of individuals and conveying the information in a timely manner to airport`s security personnel.

These different elements combined together offer better and cheaper solutions for maintenance of security in airports. These solutions also have the potential of reducing wait times and delays for passengers.

Chapter Five: Conclusion

We outline the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the use of passenger drones for the maintenance of security in airports.

5.1 Strengths

While at these early stages the capabilities of passenger drones are still not that clear, the passenger drones will with no doubt cut time of travel by half and will also be popular to those people who are interested in cutting travel time by avoiding gruesome traffic.

5.2 Weaknesses

While drone technologies have come a long way, people have not yet caught up with them. There are still unknown scenarios in the use of passenger drones that pose some very serious challenges. To be able to deal with any arising anomalies, it would be necessary to have a proper understanding of the different problems that may arise. Laksham (2019), argues that both computer scientists and engineers are yet to anticipate on the modelling of those features that could be necessary for effective responding to scenarios that are unknown. All the things that could go wrong in the use of passenger drones are not yet clear. Having a proper understanding of the safest ways to design and introduce these systems is quite important being well aware than in these systems, it is not possible to plan for anything.

It is also worth pointing out that while the use of drones would lead to many people losing their jobs, the operation of these drones still relies heavily on human crews. Many systems are reliant on crews for execution of commands in one way or another and it is a fact that most of the failures are captured by human beings.

Many people are yet to figure out what drones actually mean, there exists no single metaphor. There are people who would like to regulate these passenger drones the same way the throwing of a football with spikes would be regulated. As such, there are still a lot of uncertainties on the regulation of passenger drones.

5.3 Threats

In the use of passenger drones the threats revolve around practical questions of airspace integration and autonomous flying and also the difficulties with regard to data communication and batter capacity.

Also, flying taxis are still an alien concept which will take time before people buy into it. While the technology could be there, the trust of passengers to be moved around is still on pilots and many people would want to see the pilot physically to be assured of their security.

The use of drones also presents physical threats to the wellbeing of human beings through accidental harm that could come about as a result of miscalculations or targeted threats. Drones that are out of control cause accidental harm. This could come about from the drone’s legitimate operators losing control over it and even hardware and software malfunctions of the drones themselves. Harms from miscalculation could also come about

Targeted attacks are another threat to the use of drones. The intention of these attacks is to harm human beings.

5.4 Opportunities

For drones to be accepted by members of the general public, companies that deal with these drones would have to provide the general public with adequate information about them and also improve on the transparency of processes.

From this, it is evident that while there is a lot that airports stand to gain in the use of passenger drones to move their passengers in and out of airports, the use of these drones as means of enhancing security in the airports is not viable. Drones can be used to enhance security in airports, but passenger drones are not a good fit for security purposes. However, airline carriers could take advantage of the possibility of moving premium travellers into and out of airports because these autonomous drones bring in rapid systems of transport into and out of airports.

All in all, it is important for any company that endeavours to begin using drones to carry out a performance risk assessment, develop a safety plan and they have to review these risk assessments and safety plans with their relevant team members. It is crucial that the elements of proactive drone safety plans focus on; the clients and the responsibilities of the pilot in ensuring that operations are safe, the protection of the members of public and surrounding structures, guidelines for privacy and also flight path considerations.

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Work zone boundaries and flight paths that are clear have the potential of reducing the risks of drones striking other properties. Pilots need to be in the know of what to do when faced with emergencies like the sudden loss of communication and power with the drones.

The uses of drones in security and property management are other areas that would require to be considered. It is important that those who oversee the collected data and those who are able to access it are known.

The maintenance of passenger experiences with the increased security requirements has to be a shared responsibility between airport security personnel and operations departments. It is necessary that there are plans of optimised layouts that are capable of providing spaces for avoidance of congestions and for further facilitation of the flow of passengers.


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