FAA launches initial FOD implementation programme
Multi-year evaluation project identifies four automatic systems that meet US contract specifications.
In June 2012, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched the limited implementation phase of its airport runway automatic Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection programme. This action followed a multi-year test and evaluation project to assess the capabilities of detection systems on the market against FAA requirements criteria. Four systems from the following companies met these specifications: QinetiQ, UK; Stratech, Singapore; Trex Systems, US; and Xsight Systems of Israel, with all four meeting 'Buy America' contract conditions in the US.
The limited implementation phase will see the installation of a single FOD system at one runway of three large hub primary airports in the US, with 50 per cent of the cost supported by the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP). It was expected that more than three airports would apply to be included in the project, so applications were to be assessed against several criteria, including the number and type of aircraft movements in a 24-hour period, plus the overall diversity of aircraft using the selected runway and the percentage of widebody aircraft using it per day.
Other criteria included the climatic conditions at candidate airports, the anticipated time to achieve system operational readiness and, if available, historic FOD data of the airport and the specific runway proposed.
A fixed budget was not announced for the project, but a total amount on the order of USD20 million is generally anticipated. Airports wishing to participate in the project were required to submit their applications by 20 July 2012. At the time of writing, it seemed likely that the airport/runway proposals selected would be announced by late August or early September, with non-mobile runway equipment installations expected to take around 12 months or less to achieve operational readiness approval. Mobile systems would, of course, take less time.
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