In late 2018, aerial drones created a major security incident at London’s Gatwick Airport requiring air traffic to be halted for over 24 hours in the midst of the holiday season, disrupting the travel of hundreds of thousands of passengers throughout Europe. In the wake of this, the question was naturally raised in the United States: Are we ready to handle an emergency like this here? The answer was a resounding “no.”

Two prominent trade associations – AUVSI, which represents the UAS community, and ACI-NA, which represents North American airports – were both struggling with the same problem: What can be done to mitigate unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the airport environment? They decided to join forces in the search for a solution.


For support in solving this policy and security challenge, AUVSI and ACI-NA turned to The Moak Group (TMG). TMG developed a concept of operations for AUVSI and ACI-NA to approve:

TMG proposed establishing a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” of experienced leaders who would work with subject matter experts to study the problem, consult with government and industry stakeholders, and develop a report that could serve as a playbook for UAS mitigation at airports.


Once TMG’s strategy was approved, the next step was the execution of the multi-step plan. First, TMG recruited a talented set of reputable leaders from across the aviation and security industries to serve on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on UAS Mitigation at Airports (BRTF). The Task Force included former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, former TSA Administrator John Pistole, head of security for the NFL Cathy Lanier, LAWA CEO Deborah Flint, and many more authoritative leaders.

The work kicked off at AUVSI’s annual XPONENTIAL conference and trade show with a press conference with ACI-NA and AUVSI’s leaders announcing the launch of the Task Force and a main stage panel discussion on UAS mitigation.

Then the BRTF began studying the issue in great detail, meeting with subject matter experts in UAS and counter-UAS technology, academics, security and aviation stakeholders, law enforcement, military, airport leaders, pilots, airline executives, and government leaders in the United States and Canada.

From these numerous meetings, a deep understanding of the many challenges and opportunities was developed and synthesized for the Task Force in a series of briefings, memos, and findings. Along the way, TMG kept our clients, AUVSI and ACI-NA, updated on the progress of the Task Force with regular updates, meetings, and briefings.

The Moak Group team directly participated in and staffed our clients at numerous conferences, panel discussions, and industry-government meetings on UAS mitigation to deepen our understanding of the challenge and to continue to draw upon the expertise of the aviation and security communities. TMG also used these opportunities to highlight this issue with the media to maximize exposure on the important work being done on this issue. This included the development of a website to house information related to the task force, to accept submissions and documentation regarding this issue from stakeholders and the public, and ultimately, to host the BRTF’s findings.

The Task Force held a series of meetings, organized by TMG, to work through policy and operational challenges and develop recommendations. Throughout this process, TMG staff and members of the Task Force consulted regularly with civilian government and military leadership in the U.S. and Canada.


After an initial rigorous three-month period, The Moak Group published an interim report (LINK) on behalf of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which laid out initial recommendations for government and industry to address UAS challenges at airports. After an additional three months of intensive work, TMG published a final report (LINK) on behalf of the Blue Ribbon Task Force with more than twenty recommendations to government and industry. The final report also included a UAS incursion response playbook for airports and a set of guiding principles from which site specific UAS incursion response plans could be constructed.

Both the interim and the final report were widely covered by the media and praised by industry and government experts as a thoughtful and meaningful approach to this pressing problem. The Moak Group team helped to organize a dual press event for the release of the final report – a press conference at LAX Airport with the Task Force’s co-chairs and a press event in Washington, DC with the leaders of AUVSI and ACI-NA. The Moak Group also accompanied our clients to Capitol Hill and to federal agencies to brief government leaders on the results of the Task Force’s work.

The Moak Group

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