Tarsier To Be Evaluated For FAA
Rhode Island's TF Green Airport (KPVD) is the first commercial
airport in the United States to install and operate the latest
Tarsier Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection technology. The
Tarsier system was developed by international defense and security
company QinetiQ, and is now being tested and evaluated at TF Green
Airport on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by
the University of Illinois Center of Excellence in Airport
Technology (CEAT,) under the direction of Professor Edwin
Checking for runway debris is currently performed manually, with
visual inspections several times a day. The new, fully automated
system provides continuous scanning of the runway area and alerts
airport operations specialists about foreign objects that are
detected. Operations specialists then recover and keep a record of
all debris that is recovered.
"We are honored that TF Green is the test-site for such a
monumental technology for the aviation industry," said Mark Brewer,
president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC).
"Tools such as QinetiQ’s FOD system improve the way we
operate and help improve the safety conditions of air travel."
The FAA has initiated a program to evaluate the performance of
FOD detection systems at commercial airports. Studies are being led
by the FAA's William A. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City,
NJ, Airport Safety Management Program in partnership with the
University of Illinois, Center of Excellence in Airport
"FOD has been identified as a major problem for the aerospace
industry with cost estimates ranging up to $4 billion per year
globally," said Professor Edwin Herricks, director of the CEAT.
"The performance evaluation program at TF Green Airport began in
June and will continue until next spring. Upon completion it is
expected that the FAA will publish an Advisory Circular that will
assist airports in safety management activities related to
Two Tarsier radar units are in place along Runway 16/34 at TF
Green for the six-month long performance assessment, which will
test the FOD system in a variety of weather and lighting
conditions, including wind, rain, snow and darkness. These units
are housed in towers that resemble small lighthouse beacons, as
seen in the photograph above.
A display unit in the airport’s operations center provides
a visual image of the runway and radar imagery. Upon detection of
FOD, an alarm sounds and the TF Green Operations Team proceeds to
the area in question and performs a visual inspection and recovery
in a matter of minutes.
QinetiQ’s Tarsier system is presently in use at Vancouver
International Airport and is being installed at Dubai International
"Runway debris is an important safety, cost and efficiency issue
facing every major airport," said Phil McLachlan, managing director
of QinetiQ Airport Technologies. "The FAA evaluation at TF Green is
hugely important to us as not only is it our first installation in
the US, but also a chance to demonstrate to the FAA that fully
automated runway FOD inspections are now possible."