Progress in solving problem of foreign object debris on runways

It is a major step towards solving the problem of foreign objects that find their way on to airport runways around the world.

The Israeli Airports Authority (IAA) has declared the automated Foreign Object Debris detection (FODetec) system, developed by Xsight Systems, fully operational at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

The operational status was declared after evaluation and soft launch testing at the airport’s primary runway.

Yair Gannot, IAA director of aviation safety, said on May 13 that during the past nine months an average of six items a month were collected from the runway. Gannot said there was “no case of FOD found by our manual inspectors that was not earlier detected and visualised by the automated FOD detection system.

“The FOD detection system is maintained by our airfield lighting maintenance team during standard night-time maintenance windows. The system requires an average of less than one hour [of] maintenance per a period of two weeks.”

Alon Nitzan, president and CEO of Xsight, said the operational status is the best proof of the system’s capacities.

The company says the system is a comprehensive automatic FOD detection solution, uniquely embedded in surface detection units (SDUs) that are collocated with the runway edge lights. 

The system provides a close-up view of the entire runway during day and night, including during inclement weather. The system’s capabilities are based on a hybrid radar-optical sensing technology utilising optimised algorithms, advanced image processing software and close-range detection.

Scanning between each aircraft movement, FODetect not only markedly enhances safety, but also increases operational efficiency and runway capacity. The system is fully compliant with the FAA’s regulation for FOD detection, as it meets, or exceeds, the highest performance levels in every parameter required.

The system is installed on the airport’s primary 0826 runway, the first of three runways planned to be equipped with an FOD detection system.

FOD is an international problem. Certification in Israel opens the way for a means of dealing with it in a more efficient way.

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