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Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW) is to partner with NAV CANADA and QinetiQ Canada (QinetiQ) to trial the company’s ant-drone technology at the gateway.

The unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology set to be trialled at the Canadian airport is called Obsidian Counter.


According to the findings of an interim report by Canada’s Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) on UAS mitigation, “the threat of UAS intrusions introduces great risk and highlights the need for solutions that can safeguard airports from rogue UAS and this potentially disruptive technology. 

“Recent UAS incidents at airports raise concerns of gaps in safety and security and underscore the need for airports to have clear policies to manage these incidents.”

YOW operator, Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier Airport Authority, insists that it is continually seeking ways to improve the airport’s situational awareness within its vast perimeter, regardless of weather or lighting conditions.

“The trial with QinetiQ’s Obsidian Counter UAS System will provide all parties the opportunity to test a viable detection and mitigation system at an active airport,” says the airport’s president and CEO, Mark Laroche.

“The trial dovetails perfectly with both the Airport Authority’s Drone Incident Protocol and the recommendations in the BRTF’s Interim and Final reports.”

QinetiQ’s Obsidian Counter UAS System has been designed specifically for drone detection, and features enhanced scope and coverage to recognise drone features, while avoiding misclassification of non-drone activity such as bird or wildlife movement.


The airport authority, NAV CANADA and QinetiQ will be working in cooperation to facilitate the installation and employment of the Obsidian micro-Doppler radar unit with the goal of determining the feasibility of the system to function compatibly in a civilian airport environment.

Several objectives for the trial have been identified, including:

• Evaluating the accurate and timely detection / early warning of drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS);
• Assessing the effective utilization of the system to initiate an appropriate response to drone / RPAS detection between the Airport Authority and NAV CANADA;
• Assessing system compatibility in an international airport environment where other partner systems could cause interference;
• Demonstrating YOW’s commitment to promoting innovation and leadership in addressing the challenge of drone detection and mitigation.

NAV CANADA CEO, Neil Wilson, notes: “Establishing drone security measures at airports is a crucial component to mitigating risks and maintaining the safety of our skies.

“Collaborations like this one are crucial to developing policies and practices that ensure drones are safely integrated in our airspace.”


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