One of the ways in which drones can support airport operations and reduce costs is by performing maintenance and inspection activities at airports. Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) inspections, for example, have traditionally been carried out by flight inspection aircraft, but drones can be equipped to check the PAPI units comply with regulations, including transition angles, symmetry and horizontality.
RUNWAY INTEGRITY SURVEYS
Drones could be used to provide 3D maps of runways in a very short space of time for routine maintenance to a very high accuracy level. Detecting problems with runway integrity at an early stage will lead to efficiency savings in the long-term.
Drones can be used to provide support to manned guarding via a control centre to react to threats quickly and act as a visual deterrent. Tethered drones can stay in the air for extended periods as opposed to the 20 to 30 minutes currently afforded by their free flying cousins.
FOREIGN OBJECT DETECTION
Drones can be used to provide the aerial detection of foreign objects, alleviating the need to shutdown a runway so that this can be done by eye (as is currently the practice) whilst freeing up valuable runway slots.