Manchester Airport trials runway incursion warning system

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Manchester Airport in the UK is about to begin operational tests of a system which uses an aircraft's existing avionics to warn of an imminent runway incursion.

The Ground Marker system being offered by Axis Electronics of Bedford, UK makes use of the marker beacon receiver fitted to virtually all airliners to give pilots an aural warning if they cross a microwave detector fitted on the taxiway.

The marker beacon receiver is normally used to detect markers on the final approach to airports although its operational use has declined in an age of increasingly sophisticated navigation. Ground Marker's developers believe that using the marker beacon system makes the system a cheaper and simpler solution to the runway incursion challenge than its rivals.

In the Manchester trial the test warning is triggered when the aircraft passes microwave detectors on the taxiway and if the system is finally implemented that will occur as the aircraft crosses the red stop-bar lights intended to warn pilots of a runway ahead. Aircraft from Britannia Airways and Monarch Airways are taking part. The presentation below shows how it works.

Axis says that by installing "a simple in-cab receiver" the same system can also give warnings to ground vehicles.

The Manchester trial, on taxiway Delta, is intended to last about two months and follows an earlier proof of concept trial.

Pilots will check that they receive the aural message "ground marker testing" as they cross the detector.

Manchester Airport head of airfield strategy Simon Butterworth says: "The safety of aircraft and passengers is always a top priority and we are constantly monitoring new technology that can further improve important aspects such as runway incursion prevention."

Prevention of runway incursions has been on the US National Transport Safety Board's (NTSB) 'most wanted' list since its inception in 1990.