Category: Tarsier

FOD Fighters

An article entitled FOD Fighters at does a very good job of describing the automatic FOD detection systems currently available (although it concentrates on Tarsier), it also describes some methods for removing FOD.

Although it’s arguably the star, the Tarsier system is just one element of Vancouver International’s overall FOD program. In May, about 150 volunteers performed a pre-dawn manual sweep of the runways and grounds at the airport’s 18th annual FOD walk.

See the full article here.

An act of FOD

An article describing the operation of QinetiQ’s Tarsier system at YVR recently appeared on

There are many risks that must be managed to ensure the safe landing and take off of aircraft, but having caused serious accidents over the years, foreign object damage (FOD) is among the most pertinent. Jim Banks talks to Brett Patterson of Vancouver International Airport, who explores the current solutions, and whether they are working to good effect.

Read the full article at Airport

Tarsier at

It’s almost 10 years since the Concorde disaster, so we can expect a lot of press releases from the FOD detection vendors over the next few weeks. QinetiQ appear to be the first with a general article on Tarsier at

Here’s a snippet:

Two of the most dramatic aviation incidents in recent years have highlighted the dangers posed to airlines by bird strikes and runway debris. The Concorde tragedy of 2000 in which 113 passengers were killed, was caused by a titanium strip, no larger than a school ruler, which lay undetected on the runway. This strip burst Concorde’s rear tyres, fragments of which subsequently punctured the aircraft’s fuel tank causing a catastrophic explosion.

You can read the full article here.

Tarsier press release regarding Heathrow

Tarsier press release image

QinetiQ issued a press release today that was written by Neil Pritchard, the London Heathrow Airside Operations Manager. It’s not a detailed account by any means, and unfortunately it’s not very forthcoming with data regarding actual Tarsier FOD finds, which is a pity. It does state:

For any airport operator, the area of highest risk is the runway

As we’re aware from comments left on a previous article, this is not a belief shared by everyone in the FOD detection industry. It’s also important to point out that QinetiQ’s Tarsier system does not cover taxiways or aprons, it’s runways only.

The release is available as a PDF document and can be downloaded here.

YVR’s 18th annual FOD walk

YVR Connections have posted an article describing their annual FOD walk, they mention their Tarsier FOD detection system. It would have been useful if the article had gone further, and discussed any reduction in the FOD found compared to those years before Tarsier was installed.  Article and link to source below:

Long before your first cup of coffee, more than 150 volunteers from the airport community were already hard at work making a clean sweep of YVR’s runways at YVR’s 18th annual FOD Walk. (more…)

Tarsier, a serious help in reducing snow hazards

QinetiQ have issued a press release which states the advantages of the Tarsier system during snow conditions (clearly in response to the recent UK weather). They mention runway lights being dislodged by snow ploughs, and state how the elevated position of the Tarsier sensors give them an advantage, these statements are clearly targeted at the FODetect system which is located on runway lights.

There is an image included in the press release, but it’s just a generic image of some snow being cleared from a runway. Given that the Tarsier installation at Vancouver includes cameras, it would have been useful to see some actual images taken with these cameras of FOD detected during snow conditions.

There is also no mention of any reduction in the detection performance of the Tarsier radar during snow, if the radar can detect snow on the ground, then clearly its performance must degrade due to the snowfall between the radar and the runway surface. FODetect would also suffer from this, but the FODetect system has the advantage that it is located much closer to any potential FOD, and therefore any reduction in detection performance would be minimised. (more…)

Images of Tarsier at YVR

Vancouver International have published a set of images of their Tarsier system on the Flickr website, the full set can be viewed here.

Tarsier FOD Radar and Camera Tarsier FOD radar tower

Deployment of FOD detection systems

Before considering a FOD detection system, thought has to be given to where the system can be deployed on the airfield (if it can be deployed at all). For FOD Detect and FOD Finder this is not an issue, FOD Finder is a vehicle mounted system, and FOD Detect is installed in the place of existing runway lights. For Tarsier and iFerret, finding suitable locations can be difficult, not only due to the strict rules imposed by AC150/5300-13, but also by the availability of power and data-links.

Although the Tarsier and iFerret systems both employ different detection technologies (Radar and camera respectively), they are still both bound by the same requirement, they both need clear line-of-sight to the runway, and must achieve this without breaking the rules imposed in AC150/5300-13, specifically, the Primary Surface, the Transitional Surface and the Taxiway Object Free Area Width. (more…)

Heathrow adds cameras to existing Tarsier system

QinetiQ press release

Heathrow has this week gone live with a sophisticated debris detection system fitted with day/night cameras that can detect an object the size of a suitcase wheel anywhere on the runways of the world’s busiest international airport.

The installation of day/night cameras enhanced with infra red technology is an innovation to the existing Tarsier system, supplied by UK based technology company QinetiQ. The system works using radars which scan the airport’s runways 24 hours a day for material which could be drawn into engines or damage aircraft systems. Specialised cameras with night vision technology are fitted to each radar allowing the airport’s airfield safety unit to view detected debris immediately and react accordingly. The infra red technology incorporated into the system ensures the cameras can work in low light conditions. (more…)

YVR QinetiQ FOD video

YVR (Vancouver Airport Authority) demonstrates how they detect and remove foreign object debris – better known as FOD – using QinetiQ’s Tarsier radar system.

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