Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Making runways safer

05.08.2011
Airplanes undergo significant stresses during take-off and landing, and parts often become detached, putting subsequent runway users at risk. Until now, airport staff have had to monitor runways without technical assistance – an activity that is prone to errors. A new radar system is set to increase safety at airports.

It might have happened over ten years ago now, but most people can still recall the Concorde crash: the TV images showing the supersonic jet with flames streaming from its tail were unforgettable. It was a piece of metal lying on the runway during take-off that caused the accident. The aircraft’s tire burst as it rolled over the metal, sending chunks of rubber flying into the fuel tank, which then exploded – with the loss of 113 lives.


The radar sensor can detect objects just centimeters across on runways. (© Fraunhofer FHR)

To avoid accidents such as this, airport staff drive up and down runways at six-hour intervals looking for any pieces of debris. But to monitor the huge areas in question without any kind of technical assistance is time-consuming and error-prone work – especially in bad weather, for instance when fog is obscuring the view. And the intervals between checks are also too long.

A new weatherproof safety system will in future monitor runways continuously for debris and warn of any dangers. Research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institutes for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR and for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE are developing the system in conjunction with the University of Siegen, PMD Technologies GmbH and Wilhelm Winter GmbH in a project dubbed LaotSe – short for “Airport runway monitoring through multimodal networked sensor systems.“ “Our technology would have prevented the Concorde tragedy from happening,” says Dr. Helmut Essen, who heads the Millimeter-Wave Radar and High Frequency Sensors department at the FHR in Wachtberg. “Devices installed all along the runway continuously scan the surface. They can detect even the smallest of items, such as screws, but the system will only issue a warning if an object remains on the runway for a longer period of time. A windblown plastic bag or a bird resting briefly will not set off the alarm.”

The system comprises an infrared camera, optical 2D and 3D cameras and networked radar sensors. These sensors were developed by researchers at the FHR. The three different types of equipment complement each other: Radar functions around the clock and whatever the weather. It can detect objects but not identify them. The cameras are better suited to classifying objects, but they are affected by the weather and the time of day. Whenever a radar sensor detects something, it instructs the cameras to take a closer look. All the sensor data are then amalgamated using software developed at the FKIE to produce a situational overview. The FKIE experts call this ‘sensor data fusion’. If the overview shows an abnormal situation, air traffic control is informed in the tower. They can take a look at their screens to judge whether there is a real danger and, if so, halt air traffic. “Our solution is merely an assistance system. The final decision on how to proceed lies with airport staff,” stresses Dr. Wolfgang Koch, head of department at the FKIE.

While similar radar systems have been developed, these are only capable of detecting metal objects, and they often give rise to false alarms. What is more, because they are mounted high up on masts they can easily be damaged in the event of an airplane accident. Dr. Essen outlines some of the new system’s advantages: “Our radar sensor transmits at a frequency of 200 GHz, so it can detect objects that are just one or two centimeters across. And using three different kinds of sensor means false alarms are almost out of the question. The device is miniaturized and scans up to 700 meters in all directions.” Initial testing of a radar sensor and camera will begin at Cologne-Bonn airport this fall, and plans are in place for further testing using several demonstrator systems before the project ends in April 2012.

Dr. Helmut Essen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2010-2011/20/safer-runways.jsp

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

nachricht Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino
16.07.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>