Xsight – An essential ally for airports
Xsight Systems: When a plane is delayed, passengers’ anger automatically focuses on the airline chosen at the time of booking. However, the fault of a delayed flight is not always the fault of the airlines. And the problem is that most people do not even imagine what and how many pitfalls are behind flight operations. In one of the areas most closely related to safety, the runway is a crucial and sometimes underestimated element, which must always remain free and safe. Keeping it under control and the many variables that can pose a danger to pilots requires a collective and thoughtful effort.
It is impossible to rely only on manual operations. Still, it is mandatory to focus on smart systems that are effective and fast in obtaining and processing data to facilitate the take-off and landing maneuvers of the planes, which alternate on the runway every 60-90 seconds in peak hours.
With airports becoming increasingly congested, runway visibility and control are crucial, especially at night and in fog, rain, or snow. Technology has been in aviation for many years, but in recent times bespoke smart solutions for runway monitoring are becoming popular at many airports. From Boston Logan International Airport to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, via Beijing Capital International Airport, Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, more airports are turning to solutions developed by Xsight Systems.
Founded in 2005 by Alon Nitzan and Oded Hanson, the Israeli company led by Amir Leybo has recently refined its suite of technologies and platforms for the safety of runways and surrounding areas. Leveraging remote sensing and intending to reduce threats that impact aviation operations, Xsight Systems provides automated solutions to detect, assess and remove all types of items that occur on runways and complicate the work of pilots and operators.
To improve the safety and security of runways, Xsight has developed RunWize. This platform, through the fusion of a millimeter-wave radar with high-definition electro-optical images, performs continuous monitoring and allows the collection and analysis of large amounts of data on what is happening on the runway. The system simplifies operations and mitigates risk, whether it’s debris, unforeseen objects, violent bird impacts, or unfavorable weather conditions. Moreover, powered by artificial intelligence systems, RunWize makes it possible to improve runway safety and efficiency, reducing the dangers to humans on the runway and decreasing the financial damage caused by accidents, delays, and flight cancellations.
RunWize’s effectiveness comes from integration with other solutions created by Xsight for complete visibility and a pitfall-preventing approach: FODetect, BirdWize, ViewWize, and ArcWize. The latter is the latest and automatically alerts airport operators and air traffic controllers when runway conditions change due to the presence of contaminants, which are classified (like ice formation & dew point, ice, rainwater, and snow variances) and measured by quantity and depth for every third of the runway. This process allows airports to meet Global Reporting Format (GRF) criteria and support real-time decision-making, maximizing runway availability. Based on a multi-layer sensor system to enable 24/7 runway surface monitoring, the AI-powered solution enables accurate, real-time data to be obtained remotely. Contaminants such as slush, rainwater, and snow are measured for depth, type, and percent coverage, as required by GRF regulations.
Birds may seem like minor obstacles, but they are one of the most insidious variables for aircraft. Managing ground-level hazards by remotely detecting birds and wildlife is the function of BirdWize, which recognizes and distinguishes birds. In the event of birds and animals on the runway, it activates an auditory deterrent to help them escape (without the need for slower and potentially dangerous human intervention). To document wildlife activity in the vicinity of the airport, it provides a mobile app that generates reports and graphs that summarize bird behavior patterns, so you can stay ahead of the game and reduce the risk of bird strikes.
What is the importance of these steps? Gain time because the presence of animals on the runway requires the next inspection, which takes at least 15 minutes and is necessary to authorize the resumption of operations. Avoiding or at least decreasing these pauses means avoiding severe delays.
Pieces of tires or asphalt, screws, embedded lights, debris, and any other object that remains on the runway represent another obstacle to the usual flight procedures (and cause delays on the schedule: the remains of a tire, for example, can trigger the closure of the runway for more than 30 minutes). In order to anticipate such scenarios, Xsight has developed FODetect (FOD means for Foreign Object Debris), which detects the presence of inappropriate parts both during the day and at night and in any weather condition, through scans of runway surfaces that take less than 60 seconds.
The images are available to operators, who can manually operate the system’s sensor camera to validate the debris to avoid false alarms visually. The dramatic crash after Concorde took off on July 25, 2000, that killed 113 people (109 on board and 4 people on the ground) is the most famous air disaster caused by FOD (with a 43-inch metal strip left on the runway by the plane that took off just before Concorde, triggering a tire explosion and engine fire on the latter). The danger remains excellent today, as the global aviation market loses just under $13 billion every year due to FOD.
To curb this wave and offer further help to air traffic controllers, Xsight has created ViewWize, a solution that monitors and records all movements of aircraft, vehicles, and people on the runway to provide detailed information and, when necessary, automate some manual procedures. An electronic eye is helpful to anticipate possible dangers and carry out aircraft diagnostics in case of unforeseen problems, remotely manage rescue in real time and improve procedures thanks to the analysis of recordings.