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Airport runway foreign object debris detection systems

Airport runway foreign object debris detection systems

Issue Time:2021-07-25

Weather conditions have a significant impact on aircraft operations.  For example, the attachment of snow and ice to the fuselage has a significant impact on the operation of an aircraft, especially during takeoff.  Given the slippery nature of the snow, and the fact that relatively large aircraft operate on short runways, accumulation of snow on runways increases the risk of overflight.  

Recently, the airport runway foreign object (FOD) detection system independently developed and produced by the Second Research Institute of the Civil Aviation Administration of China successfully won the bid for the FOD detection system project of Beijing Daxing International Airport.

This new detection system consisting of optical sensors, radar sensors, information processing systems and human-computer interaction terminals is the first domestic use of tower-type and edge-light-type photoelectric composite detection systems to independently apply two runways.

Foreign object of airport runway

Foreign matter on the airport runway, or FOD, generally refers to a foreign matter, debris or object on the airport runway that may damage aircraft.

According to the operational data verified by international cases, on the same runway, the number of foreign objects detected by the automatic detection system is usually 7 to 10 times that of the manual inspection.  

Therefore, it is an inevitable trend to use highly automated technical monitoring methods to assist or replace manual inspection methods, to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the airport runway foreign object investigation, and to shorten the runway occupancy time.

Real-time monitoring of the conditions of foreign matter on runways enables a swift decision making on whether an aircraft can land or take off safely. 

Sensor deployment

It is reported that the airport runway foreign matter detection system independently developed by the Second Civil Aviation Institute can automatically complete the real-time monitoring of runway foreign matter, foreign matter information extraction and automatic evidence collection.

At present, products of the same type in the world either use optical detection technology or use radar detection technology to detect foreign objects on airport runways.

These two methods have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Optical detection technology is suitable for the detection of small targets of various materials, but it has certain requirements for air visibility.

Radar detection technology is less affected by the environment and is suitable for detecting metal objects, but non-metal objects may be missed.

If the two methods can be combined, they can complement each other's advantages and receive good detection results.

The above two types of typical systems have great similarities in system architecture. The focus is on the difference in the deployment of sensor technologies. Therefore, after completing the basic development of sensors and runway foreign body information processing systems for multiple technologies, the R&D team took the lead the concept of a hybrid runway foreign body detection system is proposed.

It is understood that the new airport runway foreign body detection system is composed of optical sensors, radar sensors, information processing systems, and human-computer interaction terminals.

The optical sensor is mainly responsible for the optical detection of foreign objects on the runway and the remote video foreign object confirmation. The radar sensor is responsible for the millimeter wave radar detection of foreign objects on the runway. The information processing system is responsible for the processing and fusion of sensor detection data, extracting and managing foreign object information, and the human-computer interaction terminal is responsible for communicating.

Operators interactively complete the foreign body disposal processes such as foreign body discovery, confirmation, cleaning, filing, statistics and reports.

The new system improves sensor integration

Compared with the products of foreign manufacturers, the mixed-mode airport runway foreign matter monitoring system of the Second Civil Aviation Institute has unique advantages.

For example, in northern airport, heavy snow in winter will cover the edge-light monitoring equipment, which will affect the monitoring effect; the foggy south, the optical equipment will also be affected.

We have fully considered equipment reliability and environmental adaptability when developing this system, and can provide flexible system configuration solutions that meet the needs of various airports. In addition, the system can also be improved for the diversified needs of domestic airports.

This new system also optimizes the sensor in the side-light runway foreign object photoelectric hybrid detection system, which greatly improves its integration. All components are integrated into the ground equipment, which reduces the difficulty of construction and makes subsequent maintenance more convenient.

After verification by the team, no matter what kind of monitoring method is used, it can detect foreign matter on the runway with a particle size of 2 cm or less.