Urges inclusion of Boston airport because of its history as a pioneer in aviation security and unique regional status


Washington (December 19, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Security, today sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requesting that the agency include Boston’s Logan International Airport as a test site in its Airspace Hazard Mitigation Program. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 authorized this pilot program at five airports, “in order test and evaluate technologies or systems that detect and mitigate potential aviation safety risks posed by unmanned aircraft,” also known as drones.


In recent years, the proliferation of drone technology has created increasing security risks for airports like Logan. The mere sighting of a drone on the runway can lead to hours of disrupted travel, while a malicious or negligent actor could cause a drone to strike a plane in a crash with catastrophic casualties. The FAA’s Airspace Hazard Mitigation Program is designed to help airports start addressing these security threats through the deployment and testing of new counter-drone technologies.


“Logan Airport and its operator, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), have earned a reputation for being a leader and committed partner in improving aviation safety standards,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson. “Given its pioneering history and unique attributes, I believe that the FAA should include Logan Airport as a pilot participant in testing counter-drone technologies through the Airspace Hazard Mitigation Program.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


In June, Senator Markey served as the Ranking Member at a Security Subcommittee hearing on drones. Mr. Harold Shaw, the Chief Security Officer for Massport, testified at this hearing and described how Logan Airport is currently addressing drone security threats.


Senator Markey has previously led the charge for new policies to address the risks associated with drone technology:

  • In November 2019, Senator Markey, with Senators Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Alexander (R-Tenn.), introduced the Stadiums Operating under New Guidance (SONG) Act, which gives the FAA the authority to issue Temporary Flight Restrictions for concerts and other events held at stadiums that are increasingly threatened by drones flying overhead.
  • In April 2019, Senator Markey and Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) sent a letter to the Department of Transportation calling on the FAA to swiftly publish a proposed rule for remote identification of drones. Remote identification could permit the public, the FAA, law enforcement, and others to remotely track and identify drones and their operators during flight. When the FAA delayed this critical rulemaking, Senators Markey and Thune sent a follow-up letter urging prompt action.
  • Senator Markey has long fought for new privacy rules to protect citizens from the risk of drone surveillance, including by introducing the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act in prior Congresses. Many of the provisions from this legislation were included in the latest FAA Reauthorization Act.