Category: FOD Finder

FCC grants waiver to TREX to use restricted frequency to detect foreign debris on airport runways

 The Federal Communications Commission has issued a final rule that grants a waiver to TREX Enterprises Corp., of San Diego, CA, to use the restricted 78-81 GHz band when it operates its “foreign object debris” (FOD) detection radar equipment at U.S. airports, where such debris can be hazardous to airplanes landing and taking off.

Source (Government Security News)

SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) amends its rules to permit the certification, licensing, 
and use of foreign object debris (FOD) detection radar equipment in the 
78-81 GHz band. The presence of FOD on airport runways, taxiways, 
aprons, and ramps poses a significant threat to the safety of air 
travel. FOD detection radar equipment will be authorized on a licensed 
basis...(more)

Source (US Government Printing Office)

Firms Vie for FAA FOD Detection Contract

A nice summary of the FAA and FOD detection appeared recently at Aviation International News, see the source article here, snippets below:

QinetiQ’s Tarsier uses a fairly powerful scanning radar, generally requiring two separate radars set back from the runway and overlapping to cover an 11,000-foot runway, as well as a slewable, military-grade camera for close target inspection. Recently, the UK company announced the integration of Tarsier with a runway and taxiway acoustic sensing system to warn of potential runway incursions.

The iFerret system from Singapore-based Stratech Systems typically uses eight non-radar “intelligent vision” electro-optic sensors alongside, but set back from, the runway. The sensors capture images in full HD quality, with a 70X zoom capability that allows swift visual assessment of FOD. The system’s software-controlled optics also compensate for changing ambient light levels to maintain daylight-like images in darkness.

The mobile FOD Finder, the system employed at Yuma, incorporates into one pallet a radar, radome, electronics, wireless data transfer and 360-degree zoom cameras, and is operable while moving in a half-ton truck. Surface-mounted FOD Finders can be rapidly linked to create a temporary or permanent fixed array along a runway. When the system is mobile, a powerful vacuum system can recover FOD while moving. The device is offered by San Diego-based Trex Industries.

The FOD detection system from Tel Aviv-based Xsight uses existing runway-edge light fixtures as mounting bases. A weatherproof above-ground unit holds scanning radar and zoom camera. Watertight electronic units, power and communication equipment contained in an underground chest support the mounting base. Runway cameras are individually slewed via consoles in the control tower. The system is deployed on dual runways at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International.

Source (AIN Online)

Debris field of dreams

[This article was updated on 30/05/2012, see below]

Reporternews has more details on the story from last month that the Dyess Air Force Base has been FOD free for more than 1000 days.

Zero damage from foreign objects is practically impossible. Jet engines sucking in massive amounts of air will inevitably ingest something they shouldn’t.

Recognizing this, Air Combat Command decreed a “chargeable” FOD as an event that results in more than $50,000 in damage. It also set an acceptable FOD rate of 1.0, based on the number of chargeable incidents divided by flying hours.

The staff at Dyess should be applauded for their efforts, and although the article does mention the use of the FOD Boss, ,there is no mention at all of automated FOD detection. This is yet more evidence that, for some reason, the automated detection systems are not yet considered to be part of the standard arsenal in the fight against FOD. And with one of the biggest players in this industry, QinetiQ, no longer actively marketing their Tarsier system, it is starting to look like automated FOD detection might not have the future many in the industry had hoped.

Update:

It has been pointed out to me (i.e. I have been corrected) that the previous article covering the same story does indeed mention an automated FOD detection system i.e the FOD Finder from Trex. From the previous article:

“Keeping the flight line clear of FOD is a total team effort,” Smith said. “Things we do to minimize FOD are monthly base-wide FOD walks, handing out awards, such as “FOD Fighter of the Month,” using the FOD BOSS, Sweeper, FOD check points and the FOD Finder Radar Truck.”

Source (Reporternews & Dyess Air Force Base Homepage)

AIR Boss airfield inspection and management system

Trex have released a short video which demos their Air Boss system, here’s the blurb and video:

Trex Aviation Systems is now offering the AIR Boss digital airfield inspection and management system. The AIR Boss system comes complete with iPad, AIR Boss software, reporting, training, database service and Trex 365 support. All for a few dollars a day per unit. This system is in service with both commercial and military airfields. AIR Boss includes audio/visual warning system to help prevent runway incursions. Check it out!

Chicago O’Hare is now operating the 2012 FOD Finder

I recently commented on a video from Trex (the company responsible for the FOD Finder), I mentioned that I wasn’t keen on the pen input for the tablet device displayed in their video. Grant Bishop (COO at TREX Aviation Systems) has sent an update (see below) to FOD detection.com which describes the latest updates to the FOD Finder system (including the use of an iPad):

by Grant Bishop, COO at TREX Aviation Systems

The 2012 FOD Finder now operates via wireless iPAD operation.  The iPAD now controls the entire radar/vacuum/airfield management system.  The FOD Finder radar and vacuum are now mounted on a single platform allowing for easy drop-in installation to the bed of any US full size pickup.  The vacuum motor provides power to the radar which keeps the entire kit self contained.  All the operator needs is the iPAD which comes a simple mounting system that fits any vehicle. (more…)

MCAS Yuma clears objects off flightline[video]

Here’s a great little video of Trex’s FOD Finder system in use at MCAS Yuma. It’s obvious from listening to Grant that Trex are not only serious about detecting FOD, but also committed to understanding where the FOD came from, and about retrieving the FOD. (I’m not keen on the pen input for the tablet though)

 

FAA report on FOD Finder

Back in March of this year the FAA published their report on the Tarsier FOD detection system, within the next few days the FAA are due to publish their report on FOD Finder, the mobile system from Trex Enterprises. Trex have been kind enough to send me a copy in advance of the availability on the FAA website.

It’s worth noting that FOD Finder is the only mobile system on the market, and is therefore the only system available which can cover taxiways and aprons, as well as the runway. Theoretically the fixed systems could cover the same areas, but strict building rules and cost make this very impractical.

Here’s the abstract:

In 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Research and Development Team initiated research to conduct a performance assessment of the Trex Enterprises FOD Finder™, a mobile, radar-based foreign object debris (FOD) detection system. This assessment included the system’s capability to detect objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials at all locations on the runway surface. The system’s capability to detect FOD during both nighttime and daytime conditions, in periods of sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow was also assessed.
The FOD Finder detection system was installed at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in March 2009 and initially tested in July 2009. The assessment of the FOD Finder detection system at ORD was supplemented by the evaluation of two additional FOD Finder detection systems at Honolulu International Airport and the McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California. The performance assessment at all three airports began in May 2010 and concluded in September 2010. Researchers conducted several test sessions at each airport to assess the FOD Finder’s capability to detect selected FOD items that were of various shapes, sizes, color, and material in both nighttime and daytime conditions, in periods of sun, rain, mist, fog and snow.
The FOD Finder detection system was able to detect the objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials on runway surfaces, taxiways, and aprons, and was able to perform satisfactorily in nighttime, daytime, sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow.

Download: Performance Assessment of a Mobile, Radar-Based Foreign Object Debris Detection System

TREX Aviation Systems at LinkedIn

TREX (the company behind FOD Finder) have started a company page at LinkedIn. If you’re a LinkedIn member then you can choose to “follow” them.

Firm’s Runway Radar Looks to Improve Airport Safety

This article appeared on the San Diego Business Journal website yesterday. It’s a good piece that describes the FOD Finder system from Trex. It describes the current installs, the costs of the system and the amount of FOD found when the system was used at the Yuma Marine base (map). It also highlights the fact that the system can be leased on a monthly basis (this is an advantage over fixed systems where the cost of installation would make any short term leasing impractical), which is a great idea for those airports that are reluctant to purchase new technology.

The machine costs $400,000, he said, adding that airports can lease it for $12,000 to $15,000 per month. Bishop said airports often see a return on their investment in less than 60 days.

(source – The San Diego Business Journal)

Notice of Decision To Issue Buy American Waivers for Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Equipment

From the Federal Register:

The FAA has determined that two manufacturers with products containing 60% or more U.S. content and U.S. final assembly are able to produce sufficient and reasonable amounts of FOD detection equipment meeting the requirements of FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-24. Subsequently, the FAA will issue Buy American Waivers based on the 60% U.S. content and U.S. final assembly. The FAA will not issue any Buy American Waivers based on insufficient quantity to foreign manufacturers.

As a result the FAA will issue a Nationwide Buy American Waiver for the Trex Aviation Systems’ FOD Finder XF* and QinetiQ’s Tarsier FOD System based on the 60% U.S. content and U.S. final assembly waiver permitted in 49 U.S.C. 50101(b)(3). With the presence of these two manufacturers in the United States the FAA has determined there is sufficient quantity and consequently there is no justification for issuing any Buy American Waivers to foreign manufacturers based on insufficient quantity at this time.

This “Nationwide Waiver” will allow Trex Aviation Systems’ FOD Finder XF* and QinetiQ’s Tarsier FOD System to be used on AIP funded projects without having to receive separate waivers for each project. Having a nationwide waiver enables projects to start quickly without having to wait for the Buy American analysis to be completed for every project, while still assuring the funds used for airport projects under the statute are being directed to manufacturers that meet the Buy American requirements.

*The FOD Finder XF is Trex’s fixed solution, Trex is better known for their mobile solution, the FOD Finder XM.

Source (the federal register)(PDF version)

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