Sensis prototypes taxiway landing alert

Washington DC
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Sensis has been investigating a software modification for its runway alerting system after a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 aircraft mistakenly landed on a taxiway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport this October.

Sensis COO Marc Viggiano tells ATI that an US government oversight agency subsequently asked the company what its alerting system could have done to help prevent such incidences.

"We're in the process of providing that answer," he says, declining to identify agency but notes it was not the FAA.

The company's Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X) has been operational at the Atlanta airport since July 2006. The system combines ground surveillance data from a variety of sources to supply air traffic controllers with real-time positioning of aircraft and vehicles on an airport surface.

The system in the US also predicts some 40 defined incursion scenarios, per the request of the FAA, Viggiano explains.

Now the company is studying the feasibility of upgrading the system to account for taxiway landings.

While Sensis is "pretty darn sure" ASDE-X will be able to address taxiway landings from a technical standpoint, the company is investigating the business case for the modification, Viggiano says.

False alerts are a technical issue of particular concern. Given the rarity of taxiway landings, there would be some level of false positives based on system settings.

"Controllers would not tolerate many false events," he notes.

Sensis is conducting some false alert testing, but its research will be limited unless the FAA expresses interest in the upgrade, Viggiano adds.

The agency has not said they would provide funding for this work, he says, noting that an upgrade could not be deployed at an FAA airport until the agency calls for the requirement.

Sensis is under contract with the FAA to develop and deploy ASDE-X at 35 airports, and the system is operational at 21 facilities to date.