Chinese drone producer, DJI, is offering a bounty of ¥1,000,000 ($195,000) to individuals who can provide information on the operator(s) behind the drones responsible for the flight disruptions that shut down operations at a Chinese airport.
Four separate flight interruption incidents occurred during April at the Chengdu Shuangliu International airport, with about 60 flight disruptions being reported on 21st April. Security officials state this was due to a number of drones flying around the runways, comms tower and taxiing planes.
It is estimated the disruptions left around 10,000 passengers stranded in the airport, causing financial hardship for all those involved.
The local Public Security Bureau for Information placed an initial bounty of ¥10,000 ($1930) for leads on drones flying around the airport.Citing the lack of responses, DJI stepped in with a bigger bounty, increasing the amount by over $100,000.
Drones such as the DJI Phantom 4 can travel over 2.5-5km before reaching their maximum range or battery expenditure – and due to their speed can evade authorities attempting to follow by foot or vehicle.
Prof David Dunn of the University of Birmingham commented on the difficulty involved with apprehending drones in the field saying, “There seems to be an inability to deal with the potential drone threat to air traffic – other than through extraordinary measures like this reward”.
He also commented on DJI’s use of geofencing – an onboard software used to limit the location of a drone’s GPS navigation range has not always achieved the desired results. In April, an employee of the counter-drone company Department 13 bypassed the geo-restriction on a DJI Phantom drone in Iraq.
The Chinese drone maker mentioned in a press release about the threats posed to the public by flying drones in areas such as airports and how such activities has been tarnishing the image of drone industry.
The public has until 31st Dec to report any information on the drones in order to collect the monetary bounty.