Between December 2018 and January 2019, drones hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The clever innovation that allows people to take pictures from 100ft in the air became a menace to the aviation industry. With hundreds of flights in the UK grounded and airlines losing millions, some action was needed.
Within weeks, British airports vowed to implement military-grade technology to stop drones disrupting flights. The move was backed by a government paper titled Taking Flight: The Future of Drones in the UK.
Within the document, the government introduced a new 5 km long by 1 km wide no-fly zone around airports. Additionally, by November 30, 2019, all drone operators in the UK will be required to register their vessel. Moreover, drone pilots will have to take an online competency test.
Airports Fighting Back Against Attacks
While these requirements won’t prevent a deliberate attack, new technology will. Gatwick has already spent £5 million/$6.1 million on anti-drone tech.
Although the airport has kept the finer details of its provisions secret, the Ministry of Defence did order the Drone Dome in 2018. Developed by Israeli company Rafael, the system uses four radars to provide 360-degree tracking and identification capabilities up to a range of seven miles.
While it’s unclear whether or not all UK airports have implemented the Drone Dome, the value of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd has shot up since 2016.
Now generating more than $2.3 billion in annual revenue, the company is one of the many success stories for drone technology investors. Trading not only from the popularity of drones but the defense systems that have evolved around them, investors are now hot on the technology.
Drone Shares Continue to Soar Despite Incidents
In fact, social trading sites have moved to make investing in drones easy for casual and experienced traders. Using features such as eToro’s Copyportfolio, seasoned traders can invest in a managed portfolio that covers some of the largest drone companies.
For example, AeroVironment Inc (AVAV) saw its share price rise from $17 in 2007 to a high of $116 in 2018. Providing drone defense services in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the company often features in managed portfolios.
Another consequence of the recent drone revolution is that established technology companies are seeing their stocks rise. Video game company Nvidia has become a leading provider of artificial intelligence for drones. When it made a move into the industry, share prices spiked.
From a starting price of $33 in 2016 to more than $269 by mid-2018, NVidia is another company that’s benefited from the drone boom.
Defense Remains Priority as Losses Mount Up
However, even with money pouring into the market and investors finding new ways to make a quick buck, airport attacks have become a major concern.
The three days Gatwick found itself at the mercy of drones cost the airport £1.4 million/$1.7 million. As for the airlines, EasyJet estimated the incident cost £15 million/$18.3 million through compensation payments and lost revenue. At that level, the airports nor the airlines can afford to let drones take over.
As well as radars, the technology that can jam signals and stop a craft in midair are available. But, even with the current provisions in place, the UK’s Ministry of Defence wants more. In 2019, it allocated £2 million/$2.45 million of its £80 million/$98 million investment budget to startups to working on drone defense technology.
With a major contributor to the economy at risk, the British government is serious about tackling the issue. While a game of cat and mouse between attackers and defenders is inevitable, all concerned are clearly being proactive. That, at least, should offer some comfort to travelers wanting to avoid further delays.