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Monday, January 19, 2009

New Low-Cost Technology for Runway Incursions

The first contract to install and test a low-cost ground surveillance system that would improve runway safety at small to medium-sized airports was awarded to Thales ATM by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ideas,” said Acting Administrator Robert A. Sturgell. “Our goal is to get this technology to airports as quickly as possible. It’s a real boost for pilots and controllers. These low-cost systems will have a direct effect on runway incursions.”
Thales ATM, based in Shawnee, Kan., is one of several companies interested in testing a low-cost ground surveillance system that would be installed at airports not among the 35 scheduled to receive the more expensive Airport Surface Detection Equipment–Model X (ASDE-X). The FAA asked interested companies to submit proposals and will use the field tests to determine which systems will be deployed nationwide.
Under the contract, Thales ATM will deliver, install and test a ground surveillance system at airports chosen by the FAA. Additional contracts are expected to be awarded soon to other companies interested in testing their products. Today’s action and the pending contract awards respond to the agency’s Call to Action to improve runway safety nationwide.
Low-cost systems would provide an added layer of safety by giving air traffic controllers basic ground surveillance for aircraft and vehicles operating on runways and adjacent taxiways. They would also provide a foundation for future radar-based runway safety systems.

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