Sea-Tac Airport Becomes Second in U.S. to Install Runway Debris Safety Detectors

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First in the World to Incorporate Wildlife Detection

(Seattle, WA – November 23, 2015) – Safety on the runway is expected to improve with the installation of advanced automated technology that will ‘see’ potential dangers even at night at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The Port of Seattle is completing reconstruction of the center runway (16C/34C) which will also include making Sea-Tac only the second airport in the country to have a Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection system and the first in the world to integrate detection of wildlife hazards into the system.

Damage to aircraft and engines by FOD is estimated to cost the aerospace industry over $4 billion each year. The FODetect technology will provide real-time alerts day and night with sophisticated image and radar to automatically alert for FOD, which can be as simple as a metal bolt or a piece of a broken wheel hub.

“FOD on the airport runway has the potential to create damage to aircraft and engines during the critical phases of flight, during takeoff and landing, creating a threat to safe travel,” said Mike Ehl, Director of Operations and Customer Service at Sea-Tac Airport. “This new system takes the next step to continuously monitor the runway for potential safety hazards so we can remove the debris in real-time rather than rely soely on physical inspections.”

FODetect automatically and continuously scans operational areas and uses sophisticated image and radar processing algorithms to monitor runway conditions during day and night for FOD and wildlife – even during inclement weather conditions.

“The FODetect system represents the best approach to meeting expanding operational demands for continuous monitoring for FOD at Sea-Tac airport,” said Leidos Program Manager, George Thuemling. “It will enable viable sensing, identifying and locating at a previously unprecedented level of speed and accuracy for objects as small as an aircraft rivets.”

“We are honored to work with Sea-Tac to enhance runway safety by scanning the runway in between runway operations,” said Alon Nitzan, President & CEO of Xsight Systems. “Airport operators can get a first row seat on what’s happening on their runway using our technology, and this is a paradigm change in the aviation world.”

Additionally, the system automatically separates birds from other FOD types, and then alerts the airport’s wildlife team in real time, day and night. The upgraded product enables remote real-time auditory bird deterrence, completing the cycle of runway bird management. FODetect also alerts operators, characterizes objects, assists with safe clean-up and allows incident tracking.

Varec Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leidos, is the prime contractor for the project and Xsight Systems, Inc. is the original equipment manufacturer provider of the FODetect® Solution. The system’s capabilities are based on a unique hybrid radar-optical sensing technology that utilizes optimized radar algorithms, advanced image processing software and close range detection for unprecedented performance.

For more detailed information on FODetect, click here.

For a short video on the new technology, click here.

More Details
The project cost for the FOD detection system is $4.6 million. The system includes 101 scanning units installed along the runway edge lights, 200 feet apart, with each unit scanning 360 degrees, covering the full runway and 200 feet into the grass area adjacent to the runway.

Xsight Systems’ FOD detection technology is the system currently installed in the U.S., originating at Logan Airport in Boston. Worldwide the system is in place at Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport. FODspot™ subsystem has been acquired by Paris’s Charles de Gaulle International Airport.
About Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Operated by the Port of Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA, KSEA) is ranked as the 13th busiest U.S. airport, serving more than 37.4 million passengers and more than 327,000 metric tons of air cargo in 2014. With a regional economic impact of more than $16.3 billion in business revenue, Sea-Tac generates 171,796 jobs (109,924 direct jobs) representing over $2.8 billion in direct earnings and more than $565 million in state and local taxes. Twenty-six airlines serve 87 non-stop domestic and 19 international destinations.

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