Technology upgrade detects birds, not just debris

Taking an existing system that serves aviation and adding capabilities became very popular in military circles and has now entered civil aviation.

A system installed to increase airport safety is now dealing with more threats and these could be only the beginning.

Israeli company Xsight has developed the FODetect system. This has surface detection units (SDU) on the edge-light bases along the travel surfaces.

The company has now developed an enhancement to FODetect called BirdWize to deal with the threat to aviation posed by birds.

Each SDU of FODetect consists of a 77 GHz radar system combined with a CCD camera with zoom. Each SDU scans a runway section in fewer than 30 seconds with detection resolution down to the size of an aircraft nut or rivet.

Each SDU is equipped with a near infrared illumination unit to enable the use of the CCD camera at night.

The company says that the double sensor system allows a positive detection and precise location of the object. The camera serves as the main sensor while the radar unit is an additional sensor mainly for poor visibility conditions. The two sensors produce a very positive detection under all conditions.

All the SDUs are connected to the main control centre using the existing power line communications system.

The system is installed in some airports, including Tel Aviv, Paris and Bangkok, and negotiations are continuing with others.

The company says that its BirdWize enhancement will allow airports to more effectively address, track and reduce ground-level bird-related threats.

Bird strikes cost the aviation industry hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The Federal Aviation Administration receives more than 9,000 reports of bird strikes every year.

More than 40% of all bird-related incidents occur on the runway and 44% of the most damaging bird strikes happen on the ground.

The company says that BirdWize detects birds in real time, in inclement weather and in all light conditions – a major advantage since more than half of all bird activity on runways occurs at night.

Alon Nitzan, President and CEO of Xsight Systems, said that this enhancement gives airport personnel a more effective way to track birds and their behaviour patterns. “With BirdWize, airport traffic can now run smoother, potential damage to aircrafts can be avoided and passengers and crew are safer.”

The product features a system that documents all birds and other objects detected, which can be utilised to investigate bird behaviour patterns and better conduct required wildlife hazard assessments.

We can expect more enhancements. When you have such advanced sensors on a runway, why not use them, for example, to monitor hard landings and other incidents. We can expect answers in the near future.

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