An aviation expert, former Air Corps Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Byrne has warned that drones could cause “catastrophic failure” to an aircraft engine.
Mr Byrne told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that the disruption of flights at Dublin airport over the weekend was “just unbelievable”.
Several flights were delayed on Monday evening as hundreds of passengers ended up in Belfast or Shannon after a drone flew near the airfield.
There were over 40,000 registered drone users in the Republic of Ireland and the system was very well administered by the Irish Aviation Authority. “The people doing this are not in that field at all," he said.
Regulations cover where drones can be flown, he explained. “You're supposed to keep away from prohibited airspace, restricted airspace and, of course, controlled airspace. There are enough hazards involved in aviation safety.
“We do manage that very well with weather. And, you know, birds. We have congestion on the airfield, perhaps congestion in the air. We don't need something like a drone coming in.
“The effects of an aircraft taking off and ingesting one of these things would be extremely serious. It would probably lose the engine because unlike the birds, this thing is made of metal and plastic. It will cause a catastrophic failure of an engine. And we just can't have that. It's criminal. It should be stopped."
Anti drone measures were very difficult to implement, said Mr Byrne as they were small and nimble.
It was very likely that the person or persons disrupting Dublin airport were driving to the lengthy perimeter of the airport, launching the drone, possibly for nefarious purposes, and then driving away afterwards.
If it were possible to track the drones going in and out then there was a chance of catching who was operating them, he said.
“I would suggest that they use things like the ground movement radar at Dublin Airport which is very sensitive.
"It picks up people walking on the surface of the ground. I'm not sure if it's good enough to pick up a small drone moving. These things can move up to 50 kilometers an hour, sometimes more.
“I believe they (the drones) were seen after dark only because they've got a flashing light, you see. So that's sort of giving the game away. But also you've got people in the airport who are trained, the airport police, An Garda Siochana, airport fire crew, all of whom would be skilled, only too eager to help with a set of binoculars.”
"If the drone could be tracked backwards to see where it was going then the perpetrator could be apprehended. Motorcycle gardaí could be good for this type of action." he said.
Drones could not be shot down as they are small and nimble and the bullets could end up in nearby neighbourhoods. While a garda helicopter could possibly track a drone, it would not be feasible to have one on standby 24/7, said Mr Byrne.