Stratech’s iFerret wins ATC global 2010 award for innovation

This is starting to become a bit of a trend for FOD detection systems, last year QinetiQ won this award for their Tarsier system, this year it’s the turn of Stratech’s iFerret. It’s great to see these innovative systems being rewarded, but unfortunately a bursting trophy cabinet will not provide much comfort when the sales book is empty. None of these systems have yet penetrated the market in any meaningful way, and maybe this award for “innovation” is actually pointing out one of the major barriers to sales. All the systems currently available are technically complex and innovative, and so far only a handful of airports have taken on the role of the “early adopter”.

Whether any of these systems will ever become mainstream is a good question. It’s been almost 10 years since the Concorde incident, and it’s that incident that first brought the issue of FOD to the attention of the public, but since then we have had 9/11, which shifted the focus of the airports to security, and then the miracle on the Hudson, which shifted it to the threat from bird strikes, and more recently another shift back to security with the desperate requirement to install full body scanners.

For many airports the FOD problem appears to be down the priority list, and it’s not entirely surprising. If you were to ask a passenger what he/she is most concerned about when boarding a plane: security, bird strikes, or FOD,  the answer you’ll get is obvious, “what’s FOD?” When you combine this lack of public (and therefore airport) interest with the technically complex nature of the systems available, it’s not surprising that we don’t see many FOD detection systems being sold.

Press release:

Amsterdam, March 9th, 2010 – Singapore Exchange Mainboard listed Stratech Systems Limited (“Stratech”) announces today that its iFerret, intelligent Airfield/Runway Surveillance and FOD (Foreign Object and Debris) Detection System, has won the Innovation Award at the ATC Global 2010 being held in Amsterdam.

The definitive event for recognising and rewarding excellence in the global Air Traffic Control (ATC) industry, the ATC Global Awards, now in its eleventh year, recognise exemplary achievement in air traffic management, and help to raise awareness of contributions made across the industry. Winners are selected by a panel of senior representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), EUROCONTROL, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), Jane’s Information Group and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Dr. David K.M. Chew, Executive Chairman of Stratech, said: This Innovation Award, which is slated for enterprises that have raised the performance of air traffic management, recognizes the contribution of iFerret towards aviation safety.
iFerret utilises Stratechs intelligent Vision software and advanced electro-optic sensors to detect, identify, locate and record FOD in the Air Operations Area (AOA), which includes runways, taxiways, and apron areas. Upon detection, the system raises an immediate alert and allows airport operators to visually verify the objects detected and initiate procedures to remove the objects from site. iFerretTM also provides wildlife incursion detection, runway surface condition monitoring and battle damage surveillance for military airbases.

iFerret was commissioned at Singapore Changi Airport in June 2009 and successfully trialed at Chicago OHare Airport to monitor FOD on the runway and taxiway. iFerretTM is also being deployed at an airport in Europe to monitor FOD on the taxiway and apron.

Dr. David Chew added, With the recent issuance of the FAA Advisory Circular (AC) on airport FOD detection equipment in September 2009, airports can now leverage on iFerret, as an integral part of their airport FOD management program, to enhance aviation safety.


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