GTR Airport Uses Drones for Airport Safety
Courtesy of Golden Triangle Regional Airport

Deputy Director Matt Dowell operates the airport’s drone.

Officials at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport (GTR) are using future technology to make operations at the airport safer. Already a leader in the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or “drones,” the airport is one of the first in the nation to use drones for various tasks on and around the airport.

“Our first thought was to use the drone to chase birds off the runway and away from the airfield,” says Executive Director Mike Hainsey. “It was very effective in that role, but we soon found there were many more uses for it.”

In addition to wildlife control, the airport started testing the drone in various roles, including perimeter patrols, inspection of the fence and gates and facility inspections including roofs and other hard to reach areas.

Deputy Director Matt Dowell operates the airport’s drone. Already a flight instructor, he obtained his UAS operator’s license and immediately started working with the FAA and local air traffic controllers to obtain the required approvals to fly on and around the airport. Once that was obtained, he flew several test flights to ensure the drone was useful in all of the planned areas.

The drone is used to inspect hard to reach areas such as hangar roofs.

“It worked great,” says Dowell. “We’ve been able to prove the use of drones at airports is an effective way to improve safety. It’s just another tool in our kit to ensure a safe operation at GTR.”

The airport will continue to find new and better ways to use the drones by working with the FAA’s Center of Excellence for UAS at Mississippi State University as well as several national organizations promoting drone usage.