In 1999, the FAA’s Center of Excellence Office approached the University of Illinois Center of Excellence in Pavement Technology with a request to provide assistance in addressing wildlife issues at airport with a special focus on hazard warning technologies that were, at that time, in the early stages of development. With renewal of the University of Illinois Center in 2001, the Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) came into being . CEAT's continuing dedication to the advancement of airport technology resulted in the establishment of the Airport Safety Management Program (ASMP).
The ASMP has contributed to three major research thrusts in the FAA’s Research and Development Program (ANG-E261). The first thrust used geographic information sciences to organize and visualize wildlife data in a geographic information system (GIS). A basic premise of this research was that the wildlife hazard problem at airports involved spatial analysis, in three dimensions. We recognized that the general path of aircraft is predictable, and although the movement of wildlife was largely unpredictable, it was possible to relate observations to locations where wildlife hazards were greatest. For example, we can represent patrol reporting of wildlife at Seattle as in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Wildlife reports for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport presented in a colored topography with red representing highest numbers.
GIS capabilities have been developed for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). GIS developments continue, providing support for avian radar and FOD studies. The ASMP continues to support a Wildlife Hazard Management System (WHMS) approach that will consolidate critical wildlife and aircraft data in a system that will allow rapid assessment of hazards and support improved wildlife management at airports.
The second major research thrust is related to Foreign Object Debris (FOD) FOD detection systems. The loss of an Air France Concorde at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in 2000 was attributed to a 16-inch titanium strip that had fallen from a previously departing aircraft. Since that time a number of companies have developed technologies to detect FOD on airport surfaces. In 2004 the ASMP began a performance assessment of a continuous FOD detection system using a 94 GHz radar. This system was installed at the T. F Green Airport in Providence, RI and was assessed by CEAT in 2007 and 2008. Other companies came forward with FOD detection technology and the FAA asked CEAT to conduct performance assessments on those systems. A hydrid radar and video system developed by Xsight, Inc was assessed at Boston’s Logan International Airport. An intelligent vision system developed by Stratech, Ltd was tested at Singapore’s Changi International Airport, and a long term assessment is being conducted at ORD. A fourth system from Trex Enterprises is a mobile radar, which is being tested at ORD. The FOD performance assessment program has contributed information to an Advisory Circular published by the FAA in late September, 2009.
The third major thrust is related to avian radar sensors and systems. In 2002 the FAA and the U. S. Air Force initiated development of an avian radar sensor. A 94 GHz radar was developed and CEAT conducted performance assessments at DFW and the Fermi National Accelerator laboratory. In 2006 the FAA asked CEAT to conduct performance assessment of commercially available avian radar systems. CEAT initiated a comprehensive and long term assessment program designed to carefully assess the performance of these avian radar systems. Initial deployment of avian radars began in March of 2007 with operation of avian radars at SEA and the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, WA (NASWI). Additional deployments have been made to ORD, JFK, and deployments are planned for DFW. The performance assessment program has included the validation of bird detection capabilities and has resulted in reporting on the deployment of avian radar systems and concepts of operation (CONOPS) for avian radars.
The ASMP has also contributed to other research efforts of AJP-6311. CEAT has been assisting the visual guidance program by identifying technologies to improve the capabilities of FAA staff in airport testing.