QinetiQ ensures Vancouver International Airport keeps an eye out for FOD

08 May 2008

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) will achieve another world first later this year when it deploys new cameras developed by QinetiQ to enhance its Tarsier runway debris detection system. QinetiQ's Tarsier system, which uses millimetre wave radar as its primary sensor, has been operational at YVR for more than a year, providing the Airport Authority with 24-hour automated runway debris detection.

FOD, or Foreign Object Debris, can be as small and seemingly innocuous as a broken wheel from a suitcase, a bolt or a discarded plastic bag, but can damage aircraft and, in extreme circumstances lead to aircraft failure. Debris also has an adverse impact on airport operations through regular interruptions to aircraft movements required by manual sweeps of the runway.

Tarsier is the world's first proven, fully-automated runway debris detection system and has been used at YVR since January 2007. Four radars scan the airport's north and south parallel runways, locating objects that could be drawn into engines or damage aircraft systems. A display unit in Vancouver Airport's Operations Centre provides the Airport Authority's operations team with an around-the-clock runway picture.

YVR's decision to purchase the camera enhancement to Tarsier will improve airport efficiency by allowing the remote visual verification of detected debris to ensure that airport assets are better deployed. The cameras will be cued automatically, allowing the operations team to get "eyes on" with debris as soon as the system alarms.

Vancouver is proud to be a leader in this innovative technology that allows us to detect and remove debris quickly and efficiently," commented Brett Patterson, Director, Operational Safety and Planning at Vancouver International Airport. "Cameras will complement the Tarsier system, giving our operations team the ability to visually verify an item of FOD detected by radar, assess the risk it poses and take the appropriate action."

Phil McLachlan, Managing Director of QinetiQ Airport Technologies said: "With this purchase Vancouver International Airport has cemented its reputation as an early adopter of technology that makes air travel safer. We are confident that cameras will prove a useful addition to the Tarsier system, reducing the uncertainty levels around runway operation and so allowing a more predictable and efficient service."

The high specification, fully automatic cameras will operate at night as well as during the day and will allow imaging anywhere on the runway. The cameras are due to be installed at Vancouver later this year.

About Vancouver Airport Authority:

Vancouver Airport Authority is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that operates Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Canada’s second busiest airport, YVR expects to welcome 17.9 million passengers in 2008, and is an Official Supplier to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

About Tarsier:

In addition to Vancouver International Airport, Tarsier is also installed at Dubai International Airport, London Heathrow, and Providence Rhode Island. A system has also been purchased by Doha International Airport.

Find out more about Tarsier in our Technology Showcase

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QinetiQ ensures Vancouver International Airport keeps an eye out for FOD