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Advanced System for Foreign Object Debris, Drone and Bird-Aircraft Strike Avoidance

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FODBASA (Advanced System for Foreign Object Debris, Drone and Bird-Aircraft Strike Avoidance)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-06-30

Nordic Radar Solutions (NRS) has developed the Foreign Object Debris and Bird-Aircraft Strike Avoidance (FODBASA) system, which is based upon a high precision radar and one or more cameras that can detect threats caused by Foreign Object Debris (FOD), birds and drones in airport environments.

FOD, birds and drones all pose a significant risk to aviation safety and the aim of the FODBASA system is to supplement/replace existing procedures and systems currently in use in airports worldwide, to counter this risk.
The FODBASA system was developed within the framework of a Eurostars grant from 2015 until 2018. NRS has subsequently secured funding under the EU Horizon 2020 program to mature and demonstrate the FODBASA system over a two-year period from 1 April 2019 until 31 June 2021.

The FODBASA system wil, once succesfully deployed contribute to maintian and improve the level of safety within aviation by providing airports with improved means to counter the threat posed by FOD, birds and drones. It will also reduce the operating cost of airports and airlines by reducing the number of incidents in which FOD, birds and drones cause interuption to aircraft operations in airports.
The project implementation followed the work plan without significant delays during the first reporting period. The exceptions were in Task 3.2 and 3.4 which covers the first demonstration of the FODBASA system. The demonstration was initiated slightly ahead of schedule with an interim configuration of FODBASA which was due to be upgraded 2 months into the demonstration with a new antenna configuration. This would allow the full performance of the system to be evaluated in the last three months of the demonstration, while the interim configuration supported the demonstration of the functionalities of the FODBASA system. The full performance and production representative antennas were however delayed, which meant we could not complete the first demonstration as planned 31 March 2020. To ensure enough time to complete the first demonstration we have therefore requested an amendment extending the project by 3 months which has been granted. This is further described in section 1.1. and 1.2.1.
This delay has impacted the completion of Task 3.2/3.4 generating a follow-on delay in Task 4.1. The deliverables D3.2 and D4.1 have therefore been delayed. The delays have been incorporated in a new schedule which has been approved in the amendment.
All other tasks have proceeded according to schedule and the associated deliverables have been completed.
The overall progress of the specific project objectives (see section 1.1) is very positive, and the results have confirmed the overall objective of the FODBASA system.
We had planned to hire two additional engineers 6 months into the project and allocate them full time. We have however faced significant challenges finding candidates with correct background but have finally succeeded and two engineers are now hired. Up until hiring was completed, we have had to down prioritize and delay other publicly funded Research and Development projects, but this is no longer needed.
We have not identified any other significant risks requiring implementation of mitigating actions apart from the problems related to antenna production. The risk was identified as a cost issue meaning that the antenna production could become too costly and result in a final FODBASA system not being a cost-effective solution. We decided to mitigate this risk by designing a variety of antenna variants which we provided to our supplier for limited productions runs. From these trials we were able to determine the most cost effective design and proceed with production of this.
We are tracking whether and how the COVID-19 crisis may impact our project. We have had no real impact on internal activities covering both technical, marketing and communication activities. Dialogue with stakeholders has also been able to proceed although through telephone and web-based meetings. We do however need to complete the first demonstration phase of the project and some of those activities planned for May and June 2020 may be impacted because it involves movement of goods and access for NRS personnel to Billund Airport and other locations. The current restrictions imposed in Denmark does not specifically rule out our demonstration activities, but access to facilities are in many cases not currently possible even if legally possible. The latest guidance issued by the government of Denmark is that restrictions imposed in Denmark may gradually be lifted after Easter 2020. We will continue to monitor the situation and plan in accordance with the situation while trying to minimize any impact to the project.
We have had intense dialogue with Copenhagen Airport regarding the demonstration which we will perform at their location. They have significant interest in our solution and discussions now cover possible ways which they can acquire or lease our system once the demonstration has been completed. We will pursue this very seriously as a sale/lease oppurtunity Copenhagen Airport, and it would be a great showcase for NRS in relation to other potential customers.
During the reporting period we have secured our first sale of a radar system built upon the same principles as the FODBASA system. We have signed a contract with the Danish military to deliver a scoring radar system in 2021 for an Air Force shooting range. This radar will be able to very accurately determine the impact point of projectiles and bombs from F-16 aircraft during training missions. Some of the production preparations and quality management procedures we have put in place under the FODBASA project, will benefit the production and delivery of this system to the Danish Air Force.
Today, all airports operating commercial air traffic rely on vehicle patrols for periodic inspections of runways, comprising several limitations, such as poor visibility and inconsistency of personnel performance (causing human errors). Only 6 airports have radar-based solutions due to their high price (+€2M per runway only for FOD detection) and limited features, resulting in a business case that is not sufficiently convincing to airports and airlines. These solutions only cover the runway surfaces, thus presenting very limited bird detection capabilities. Importantly, these solutions are not designed to detect drones - which pose a growing threat to the aviation industry.
The aviation industry experiences high costs caused by FOD and BAS – estimated at +$13Bn per year, in addition to the resulting incidents of which some end up becoming accidents (≈118 950 potentially dangerous incidents), as well as environmental (≈1.05M tonnes of CO2 emitted) and customer satisfaction (flight delays amounting to ≈643 560 h) issues 2,
NRS developed FODBASA specifically to overcome limitations of existing technologies and reduce the cost and environmental impacts by providing a system which provider a faster, cheaper and more accurate detection of FOD, birds and drones in airports.