An advanced automated foreign object debris (FOD)-detection system that will detect foreign objects and wildlife hazards between aircraft movements is set to enhance safety at airport runways at Seattle-Tacoma Airport in the US.

Leidos, a national security, health and engineering solutions company, has entered into an agreement with the Port of Seattle to provide a comprehensive FOD-detection system to be installed at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport as part of its runway improvement project.

Varec, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, will serve as the prime contractor of the project. The equipment will be provided by Xsight Systems, which is the manufacturer of the ‘FODetect’ solution.

Both companies will work on design assistance, software and implementation services for installation, configuration, interface development, reporting and training.

After the completion, Seattle-Tacoma Airport will become only the second airport in the US to have an automated FOD-detection system.

The solution comes equipped with runway edge lights and is used to increase capacity and improve runway safety and operational efficiency. It keeps a check on operational areas and uses images and radar processing algorithms to monitor runway conditions, throughout the day and also during bad weather conditions.

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The system is capable of separating birds from other FOD types and alerts airports automatically. It also alerts operators, characterises objects, assists with safe clean-up and allows incident tracking.

"We’re proud to provide the port the only solution available in the market that can automatically detect FOD between runway movements."

It uses a hybrid radar-optical sensing technology that incorporates optimised radar algorithms, advanced image processing software and close-range detection for unprecedented performance.

FODetect is already in use at Logan Airport in Boston, Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Leidos group president Larry Hill said: "The port has selected the FODetect system to meet expanding operational demands for continuous monitoring for FOD at Seattle-Tacoma airport.

"It will enable viable sensing, identifying and locating at a previously unprecedented level of speed and accuracy for objects as small as aircraft rivets.

"We’re proud to provide the port the only solution available in the market that can automatically detect FOD between runway movements."

Image: The Xsight FODetect solution. Photo: courtesy of Xsight.