With airports around the world starting to get busier as lockdown restrictions lift in several countries, Airport Technology sat down with Stuart Tozer, director of Aerosweep, providers of specialist tarmac sweeping systems for airports, air forces and race tracks, to discuss the impact of the pandemic and what the future holds for the commercial and military aviation industry.
How has Aerosweep weathered the pandemic?
Even though air travel has been massively reduced due to Covid-19, airports can’t afford to let their airfield environment deteriorate. They have to continue to maintain a safe and clean tarmac, ready for the return to normal service. And airports can own one of our sweepers for a very little outlay. So, we have continued to promote our system as a cost-saving tool, not least because it is an inexpensive way to clean an airfield, especially in these difficult times. It is very cost-effective to run and also virtually maintenance free, due to its simple design. There are very few, if any, parts requiring maintenance or replacement.
What makes your product different?
Our system is so unusual and different from anything seen before. We are constantly reminded of this when we see the looks of amazement on peoples’ faces when we perform a demonstration. They simply cannot believe their eyes just how well it works. It really is an incredible way to sweep, and even still amazes us to this day!
The FOD*BOSS is a patented tow-behind sweeping system, designed solely for collecting foreign object debris (FOD) from tarmac and other aircraft movement surfaces. It sweeps up and collects dangerous debris such as nuts and bolts, pavement fragments, loose baggage hardware, washers, rivets, stones, sand or gravel with amazing speed and efficiency. It is a high-speed, low-cost sweeper for concrete, asphalt, interlocking pavement, fine textured spray seal, smooth or grooved surfaces and it works equally well in wet or dry conditions. With sweeping widths of 8ft, 16ft or 24ft, it’s flexible and can operate at speeds up to 40 mph. The complete unit is portable and folds away into a roller or storage bag in minutes. It can be operated by one person and towed behind any vehicle. It has no motor and few moving parts, making it virtually maintenance free.
What is the challenge facing your customers you help to solve for them?
FOD is an important and ongoing safety issue for the aviation industry. Even when there are few or no flights, the battle to remove FOD is never over, as it continues to regenerate and migrate onto the airfield. Our customers need a fast, reliable and cost-effective rapid response sweeping tool that can be on hand and ready to go within minutes.
Who uses your system?
We have such a diverse range of customers, from small local airfields, to Formula 1 race tracks to Nasa. We work with airports, airlines, space operations, and motor racing tracks and testing circuits. Every major Air Force worldwide uses the FOD*BOSS. This is because they understand the importance of removing all debris to stop it being ingested into jet engines. They want tarmac that is as clean as an operating table. Jet engines are vacuums and just one stone or object ingested could be catastrophic and completely destroy an engine, putting pilots and passengers at risk.
How did you arrive at the solution?
Aerosweep invented and patented the first FOD*BOSS sweeping system in 1994. My father Warwick Tozer had previously invented a tennis court sweeper that used a similar concept, and developed it further once we discovered there was a need to clean airports better and faster. It has completely changed the way airports clean their runways, ramps, and gates. Nothing before us had our high-speed sweeping efficiency or ability to cover large areas as quickly. Even though it was good back in 1994, in the years since we have greatly improved the technology and today it is even more effective, durable and reliable. It the safest sweeper in the world, guaranteed.
What’s new for Aerosweep?
We have recently built more durability into the product and improved the collection blades to improve sweeping efficiency. There is a new Groundforce Tow hitch system to allow faster sweeping, and we have an app available to track and monitor your sweeping via smartphone. We also have a built-in baffle system within the capture zones that helps to keep debris segregated and retained. We are continually talking with our customers and worldwide dealers getting feedback to help improve.
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