Category: Tarsier

Moog Announces Exclusive Licensing Agreement with QinetiQ for Airport Runway Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Systems

It appears as though the Tarsier FOD detection system is alive and well (or at least has just received a shot in the arm)

East Aurora, NY, USA – Moog Inc. (NYSE: MOG.A and MOG.B) and QinetiQ Ltd. have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for QinetiQ’s Tarsier® airport runway foreign object debris (FOD) detection system. The exclusive agreement will provide Moog’s established customer base access to the latest FOD detection technologies for airport runways and will provide QinetiQ immediate access to Moog’s global sales channel with strong civil and military customer relationships throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

See the full press release here.

Stratech win contract to supply FOD detection system (iFerret) to Dubai International

From the press release:

Stratech Systems says its iFerret intelligent Airfield/Runway Surveillance and Foreign Object & Debris (FOD) Detection System has won in a tender for the Runway Debris Management System (RDMS) at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The contract, awarded by Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP), is for the installation of the iFerret intelligent Airfield/Runway Surveillance and Foreign Object & Debris (FOD) Detection System.

The company estimates that this project may contribute between $5.9 million to $10.6 million to its revenue in the current financial year and would have a material impact on its financial results.

This is surprising news, Dubai has had the Tarsier FOD detection system up and running for over 7 years.

The press release goes on to state:

Winning the Dubai Tender is significant because of the three systems approved by the FAA, the Stratech iFerret™ has beaten one and will be replacing the other.

Source (Press release)

Bayanat and Stratech team up on UAE runway safety

UAE-based Bayanat Airports Engineering and Supplies (BAES) has entered into a partnership with Stratech Systems Limited to supply its iFerret intelligent Airfield/Runway Surveillance and Foreign Object & Debris (FOD) Detection System in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). BAES will market, sell and deploy iFerret in the UAE market.

If the above announcement seems a little familiar, it’s because Bayanat struck the same deal with QinetiQ (the company behind the Tarsier system) back in May 2009. Bayanat no longer list QinetiQ  as a partner on their website.

You can view the full press release here.

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.


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)

It seems like the Olympics can be used to promote anything, even FOD detection systems!

The Tarsier FOD detection system has not made it on to this site in over 12 months, so it’s nice to see the system I helped develop get a little attention, but even I’m a little surprised to see that it’s the Olympics that have caused it to pop up in the press. Yes, it appears as though FOD detection systems keep sports fans safe (in addition to “normal” passengers one hopes).

If anyone from Heathrow is reading this, don’t forget that the Tarsier Toolbox can export all the FOD data that’s being collected by the radar, and I’m more than happy to help make it available to the public at, it would make for a great article.

Here’s the FOD section of the article:

This equipment relies on clear runways so the signal that guides aircraft isn’t affected, which is where the QinetiQ foreign object debris (FOD) radar system comes in.

The new £2.5 million piece of kit alerts airside operations to any rogue or suspicious item on the runway by scanning the asphalt and comparing a stored image with the result, triggering an alarm if they don’t match.

A high-density infrared camera is then used to zoom in on the suspect area for confirmation.

‘FOD radar covers stuff that shouldn’t be there that could be ingested into an aircraft engine with serious consequences,’ Newbold says.

He refers to the Air France Concorde that crashed in Paris after striking a strip of metal.

The system alerts staff to potential risks an average 30 times a day but Newbold adds: ‘Radar is an exact science, so it could just be picking up a bird scratching its backside before flying off again. I’ve had some knickers, pliers, a pair of reading glasses and a fuel cap. I’m yet to find a wing.’

Read the full article at The Metro.

FAA report on Tarsier evaluation

The FAA have published their report on the evaluation of QinetiQ’s FOD detection system (Tarsier), entitled “Performance Assessment of a Radar-Based Foreign Object Debris Detection System”. The report also summarizes the Tarsier Toolbox application (p30-p33). You can grab the report here.

In 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Research and Development Team initiated a research program to conduct a performance assessment of the QinetiQ, Ltd. Tarsier Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection radar system. The purpose of this assessment was to identify key operational characteristics and limitations of the system at an active air carrier airport, including the system’s ability to detect objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials at all locations on the runway surface. The system’s ability to detect FOD during both nighttime and daytime conditions, in periods of sun, rain, mist, fog, and in light and heavy snow was also assessed. In January 2005, the FAA developed plans for a comprehensive performance assessment of the technology at the Providence T. F. Green International Airport. Installation of the Tarsier system was completed in April 2007. Extensive data collection campaigns were conducted from June 2007 to March 2008. At the conclusion of the data collection process, the FAA had sufficient data to conclude the performance assessment. The QinetiQ Ltd. Tarsier FOD detection radar system was found to detect the necessary objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials on the runway surface and was able to perform satisfactorily in nighttime, daytime, sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow conditions, as required by FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-24, “Airport Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Equipment.”

Source (FAA Downloads)

Catch up

Due to other commitments I’m a little behind with the FOD news from the last few weeks, so here’s a summary:

Edwards Air Force Base, they’re very serious about FOD

Oh, how I loathe checks for foreign object debris. FOD checks consist of everyone in each vehicle getting out with screwdrivers and removing every single rock stuck in the treads. (source)

Stratech’s iFerret Tackles Major Runway Hazards Faced By Airports Today

This story appeared on at least 3 news sites during the last few weeks.,, and I’m not sure if we should read anything into the fact that the 3 websites are all related to the stock market.

Runway Debris Detection Systems Saves Lives

A QinetiQ article at Airport-International that discusses the Concorde incident. (source)

Justice, Safety Require Balance

An Editorial at Aviation Week that discusses the Concorde incident, and the issue with FOD, but makes no mention of the existence of FOD detection systems.

Significantly, there are no uniform standards for what is acceptable FOD or how to find the junk that could cause harm, just general agreement to try to eliminate all debris. This is accomplished chiefly through periodic inspections. (source)

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)

Snow operations (good for some, bad for others)

Airport International have recently published an article describing how Tarsier can be used during snow operations.

Here are a couple of extracts:

snow banks will be present on the runway edges, potentially limiting a system’s line of sight

The elevated location of the sensors [Tarsier sensors] means they see clear over snow banks

The above is clearly a criticism of the FODetect system from Xsight, which has sensors located on the runway shoulders, adjacent to the runway lights.

It’s a valid criticism, but it’s not just snow banks that can cause a problem for FODetect. With the fragile sensors located alongside runway lights they are also prone to accidental damage from aircraft and ground vehicles. And of course when a sensor is damaged you don’t just lose detection coverage, you also have a potential FOD problem i.e. the damaged sensor itself will become FOD (FOD that you can no longer detect!). It’s the greatest risk associated with such a system, and given the lack of sales by Xsight it appears to be a risk the airports are not willing to take.

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