Tech Bytes

Compiled by assistant editor Brad McAllister; reach him at

Foreign object debris (FOD), covered by FAA at last month’s Great Lakes Airports Conference, presents a major problem because it has the potential to cause delays and serious damage to equipment and aircraft, costing the aviation industry an estimated $4 billion per year, according to National Aerospace FOD Prevention Inc. (NAFPI).

Edwin Herricks of FAA’s Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) relates that FAA is currently undertaking performance evaluation testing of various FOD detection technologies at airports across the country. Herricks notes that FAA is not trying to compare the technologies, but is assisting in defining how effective the systems work, mainly because certain systems will work better for different airports.

Xsight Systems Inc.
Xsight Systems, a provider of airport safety and capacity enhancement solutions, has developed FODetect, a real-time FOD detection system which offers a combined electro-optical and millimeter wave radar solution which performs continuous automatic FOD detection for airport runways and taxiways. The system has high resolution detection capability for small objects and is able to operate uninterrupted between runway movements, which can occur at one minute intervals at busy airports. The combination of optical and radar technology provides airport operators with both FOD detection and analysis capability.

The detection unit is able to be mounted on existing airport runway lighting infrastructure where it automatically scans runways and airport surfaces with full visual coverage for situational awareness. The visual verification capability provides zero runway false alarms and is able to operate effectively in poor weather conditions, the company says.

FODetect was selected by FAA for evaluation at Logan International Airport in Boston earlier this year. Xsight Systems, based in Israel, has also performed a pilot installation at Sde-Dov airport in Tel Aviv, Israel;

Stratech Systems Limited
The iFerret intelligent Airfield/ Runway Surveillance and FOD Detection System from Stratech offers detection, identification, and tracking of FOD in real-time with the use of high-resolution self-calibrating cameras, automated scene analysis, and configurable scan resolution. The system provides 24-hour, all-weather continuous runway inspection in-between flights and facilitates rapid recovery responses and real-time alert for FOD, the company says.

The installation includes cameras mounted on a series of rigid towers, each of which is responsible for monitoring some 300 meters of runway.

iFerrit has been deployed at Singapore’s Changi Airport and is expected to be installed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport for evaluation by FAA’s CEAT;

QinetiQ’s Tarsier automatic FOD detection system is capable of locating FOD as small as a two-inch bolt on airport runways to an accuracy of three meters through the use of networked high-frequency, high-resolution radar, integrated digital sound processing, and a central user display.

The user display is both simple to use and highly intuitive, according to the company. Upon detection of FOD, the system’s fully automated process provides visual and audio alarms to notify the user.

Tarsier is currently employed at Providence International Airport, Doha International Airport in the State of Qatar, and Vancouver International Airport;

Widely acclaimed as the ultimate FOD sweeper, The FOD BOSS is now green energy compatible. Towing the FOD BOSS with an electric vehicle will greatly reduce sweeping carbon emissions, lower costs, improve sweeping efficiency, and provide the cleanest and safest possible aircraft operational surface, according to the company.

The patented sweeper collects and removes both metallic and non metallic debris including large pavement fragments and small nuts and bolts.

The FOD BOSS is maintenance-free, works on all hard surfaces wet or dry, and is easy to use. It works at up to 30 mph, and can sweep in spans of up to 20 feet;