QinetiQ's Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection system, Tarsier, recently scooped the Innovation Award at Jane's Air Traffic Control awards ceremony in Amsterdam. The award, for raising Air Traffic Management performance, was judged by a senior industry panel which included representatives from the International Aviation Transportation Association and Federal Aviation Administration.
Dr Dominic Walker, Product Development Director accepted the award on behalf of the team at QinetiQ Airport Technologies, "This award rounds up a great year for us, which saw the installation of Tarsier at Doha International, the upgrade of Vancouver's system to include our new day/night cameras, and the installation of the complete radar and camera system at London Heathrow. Receiving such an award from the Air Traffic Management industry is recognition of the benefits Tarsier can bring to aviation as a whole."
FOD not only poses a safety risk, but can also lead to significant costs due to damage, delays and runway closures. The Tarsier system is based on high-resolution millimetre wave radar coupled with automatically cued day and night cameras. Continuous monitoring by the radar quickly identifies the location of an object and directs the cameras to provide visual confirmation of any hazards on the runway. Whilst originally designed for FOD detection, Tarsier can also inform the airport?s wider safety management system by detecting and identifying wildlife, such as birds on the runway.
QinetiQ's Tarsier system went live at Vancouver International Airport in early 2007 and in March 2008 it was selected by BAA for London Heathrow. Other installations include Dubai International, Providence Rhode Island and MOD Boscombe Down.