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Detect the undetected at millimetre
precision and see all threats to airport safety.

The current situation

Passenger air traffic has grown at an unprecedented rate during the last 5 years, a trend that is expected to continue in the future, with regions nearly doubling their passenger traffic by 2020. Airport authorities and airlines are increasingly facing safety threats to passengers, crews and aircraft caused by

  • a wide-range of foreign object debris (FOD) on runways and taxiways
  • birds-aircraft strikes (BAS)
  • the growing number of drones, in the airport and surrounding areas
  • Old infrastructure, limited runway capacity and very expensive and inefficient detection systems
  • Continuous adoption of best practices and technologies to mitigate threats associated to safety of flight

Safety of Flight

Given the high impact of potential accidents and incidents – both in terms of damage to aircraft and fatal crashes with loss of lives – there is a continuous adoption of best practices and technologies to mitigate risks associated to the “safety of flight” (SOF). Today, all airports rely on vehicle patrols for periodic inspections of runways, comprising several limitations, such as poor visibility and inconsistency of personnel performance (causing human errors). Only a few airports have radar-based solutions due to their high price and limited features, resulting in a business case that is not sufficiently convincing to airports and airlines.

These solutions only cover the runway surfaces, thus presenting very limited bird detection capabilities. Importantly, these solutions are not designed to detect drones – which pose a growing threat to the aviation industry.

Concept of operation

The FODDBASA Concept of Operation for covering a runway in a major airport is based upon at least two radar sensors each covering part of the runway for FOD and one end of the runway each for dones/birds. Each radar sensor will in regular intervals scan of part of the runway for FOD and in the remaining time scan the approach/departure sectors of each runway for drone and bird  activity.

Pan Tilt cameras located along the runway will supplement the radar sensors.

When FOD is detected on the runway by a radar sensor, a camera will be steered to the position of the FOD detection. The image from the camera will be provided to the user as the final confirmation of the FOD detection.

The sector coverage for birds and drones is designed to provide coverage of departing and approaching aircraft. Typically, aircrafts taking off will rotate and lift off well before the end of the runway and coverage is needed from a point before the point of rotation. As aircrafts climb out, they will fairly quickly reach a “drone safe” altitude and hence coverage does not need to expand that far out from the runway. Aircrafts approaching the runway will however in the final segment be descending on a 3 deg glidepath to the runway. This means they will go below the “drone safe” altitude at longer distance from the runway, requiring the sector coverage to extend further out from the runway. 

Detections in departure and approach sectors will be segregated between aircraft, drones, birds. Potential drone detections will in most cases be verified by camera as part of a real time alert to the user. Bird detections will be recorded for statistical purposes as well as real time alert when large birds such as when geese approach. 

The FODDBASA system is a multi-sensor system designed to detect FOD, drones and birds in and around airports. 

The system is based upon the unique radar designed by NRS. The key features of the radar are:

  Ka band frequency with a corresponding wavelength of less than 1 cm, which allow for the detection of very small objects such as FOD.

  High gain separate transmit and receive antennas which allow for the detection of weak signals from small targets at distance such as FOD, bird and drones.

  Very narrow beam width antennas which allow for accurate determination of targets in 3D (position and height).

  Doppler measurement of target range rate (making it a 4D radar).

  Multiple simultaneous beams from antennas providing a large instantaneous Field of View without moving the antennas.

  A pedestal on which the antennas are mounted which provides ability to steer antenna beams in any direction and elevation desired.

  Realtime processing of signal providing very fast detection of targets.

To supplement this advanced radar, one or more high performance commercial off the shelf video cameras will provide final classification of any target which the radar cannot classify. The cameras will be steered to potential targets by the radar based upon its initial detections or manually if desired by the operator.

FODDBASA is the solution

Nordic Radar Solutions has developed the Foreign Object Debris, Drone and Bird Strike Avoidance (FODDBASA) system based upon a radar sensor supplemented by camera sensors. 

The FODDBASA can detect Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on runways, drones as well as birds in the airport to mitigate the safety of flight risk posed by these objects.

The FODDBASA is unique in being able to address these safety flight risks with a single system providing a much more cost efficient solution for airports compared to operating 3 systems each addressing only one of these risks.

How it works

The output from FODDBASA will feed into an airport systems/organizations which addresses FOD, drones and birds. This is typically separate functions in the airport and hence the data flow will reflect this and is illustrated below. Not every airport is organized the same way and the FODDBASA data flow will be adapted accordingly.

The output from FODDBASA will be both real time data for use in one or more Control Centers which handles and addresses real time FOD, wildlife/birds and drone threats. Control Centers will based upon FODDBASA data, assign task to airport FOD, wildlife and security personnel as well as police for the resolution of threats.

FODDBASA will also maintain statistical data which can be utilized for monitoring trends in FOD and bird activity, key information needed in planning of FOD prevention and wildlife management. The statistical data will also support reporting to airport safety reviews and aviation authorities.

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