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Safer Monitoring of Runway Conditions

Final Report Summary - AIRFIELD MONITOR (Safer Monitoring of Runway Conditions)

Executive Summary:
The consortium behind Airfield Monitor project – a group of European SMEs within the avionics, electronics and communication sectors – has addressed a technology gap and major market opportunity in the supply of a novel system to support planning, control and assessment of airport runway and taxiway conditions, while significantly enhancing aviation safety. The consortium has developed the first functional prototypes of a system comprising a mobile polarization and spectroscopy based optical sensor device, complemented by a stationary / mobile CMOS-based camera and combined with a methodology to calculate the friction index of runway surfaces under winter conditions. The project was conducted through 9 work packages:
WP1: Consortium management. The consortium management should ensure smooth running of the project but quickly faced difficulties due to a key partner leaving the project. Through a long period of time project management struggled to find a new partner and finally found a way forward including subcontracting, rewriting the DoW and compiling new budgets.
WP2: Operational Assessment and System Specification. This work package has compiled market-benchmarking data and specified requirements on safety and legislation issues to support the product development.
WP3: Mechanical determination of runway surface skid resistance. Through this work package the runway skid resistance in different weather conditions has been determined to support the development of friction algorithms.
WP4: Polarization Imaging. Through this work package a concept for developing a polarization-imaging system as well an image chip and a polarizing camera has been developed.
WP5: Spectral analysis of surface contaminants. This work package has focused primarily on the theory behind water level sensors, roughness sensor as well as optical sensor systems and data fusion.
WP6: Estimation of friction index (IRFI) and hardware. On basis of the physical measurements methods for data handling and calculation of a friction index has been established in this work package.
WP7: Data infrastructure and end-user applications. Using the runway measurements and specifications, the end user applications mobile manager and administration client have been developed.
WP8: Field Testing and Performance Demonstration. Due to delays in development as well as a partner leaving the consortium the field-testing was limited to primarily Aarhus Airport in Denmark. The field tests showed significant results from Airfield Monitor system.
WP9: Exploitation and Dissemination. Again, due to delays in development as well as a partner leaving the consortium this work package has primarily focused on developing an overall deployment strategy and the compilation of a preliminary business plan.

Project Context and Objectives:
The Airfield Monitor consortium aims to develop a novel system to support planning, control and assessment of airport runway and taxiway conditions, while significantly enhancing aviation safety. The system will be based on comprising a mobile polarization and spectroscopy based optical sensor device, complemented by a stationary CMOS-based camera and combined with a methodology to calculate the friction index of runway surfaces under winter conditions. The realization of project objectives will benefit the participating SME manufacturers by providing them with a state-of-the-art solution that significantly reduces the overall cost of monitoring airport runways and at the same time enhances aircraft safety. Moreover, the project contributes to the development of new and safer standards for flight safety, and support European and Member State policies in the areas of air travel safety, technological development of infrastructures and Air Traffic Management systems to encounter capacity problems; environmental policies, and, not least, both EU and national efforts to enable liberalization of the European air transport industry. The primary activities in the project relate to:

- Definition of the system requirements
- Development of an algorithm based on mathematical relations between the surface conditions and skid resistance
- Development of stationary polarization cameras and optimization of the detection of polarized light
- Research on adding new optical wavelengths to the sensor - Development of algorithms to compensate the estimated optical friction index
- Integration, Demonstration, Project management, Exploitation and Dissemination.
Project Results:
Please see attached PDF
Potential Impact:
Potential Impact

The objective of the Airfield Monitor project is to market an innovative runway monitoring system superior to existing systems in terms of both cost and performance. Given that this new system has a markedly lower operating cost as compared to current solutions; it is an improvement for the involved parties and will increase the competitiveness of European end-users, more specifically airports, not only in terms of cost savings but more importantly in terms of safety, as this product shall significantly reduce the accident risk factor at runways.

The impact from Airfield Monitor will be gained at three levels. First, the impact on commercial end-users of the Airfield Monitor product, i.e. benefits for the Airports in Europe. Secondly, the pricing and hence benefits and profitability for the consortium behind the Airfield Monitor project itself. Thirdly, the positive impact to be gained for the European economy, policies and workers as such.

The European Air Transport is a major sector in the global perspective, supporting thousands of suppliers and manufactures across a wide range of industries and nations, and cumulatively generating €220 billion of direct added value for the EU economy. In terms of airports, Europe is also a strong competitor having, measured in sheer numbers, as many airports as in the US. In recent years, airports have been under growing pressure to be more efficient and to achieve economic sustainability. Of a population of 1,069 commercial airports in operation in Europe, several countries have experienced an increase in the number of departing passengers, mostly due to the growth of low cost scheduled services, which has provided passengers with a cheaper air transport alternative to surface modes than was previously available.

Implementation and use of the Airfield Monitor System will, in addition to the improved information on friction and runway conditions in general, benefit the economy from savings in procurement and installation as compared with existing technology. An improvement in economy through savings and additional capacity in the management of winter conditions at the airport is another potential impact of the project although it has not been the objective of this project to verify this potential.

The numbers of European airports are:

Small (up to 1 mill. passengers per year): 803
Medium (between 1 and 5 mill. passengers per year): 172
Large (more than 5 mill. passengers per year): 94

Which makes a total of 1.069 airports. Of these the first segmentation for Airfield Monitor is the medium segment, which consists of the 172 airports. From this further segmentation is done with regards to the needs for winter conditions management, which is app. 1/3 of the 172 airports.

When focusing on the above segment we see that one of the major results in the development phase and the involvement of end users / airports is the need of different products for different use and different capability to cover the cost and take out the benefit of the Airfield Monitor solutions.

By implementing this strategy we have developed 4 systems with its own combination of components. It is considered that the need for optical sensor system components is proportional to the size of the airport.

It means we will focus on – from the customer side:

1. Small sized airports
• Small area to cover
• No special handling experience available
• Cost efficient solution is needed
• System is easy to mount and easy to maintain.

For these airports the need is an efficient, simple to handle, cost efficient product. Flexible product in mounting, and moving from one driving unit to another is needed.

2. Medium sized airports
• Medium size area to cover
• Handling experience is present
• Cost efficiency is needed but compared to overall benefits
• Special vehicle is present
For these airports the focus is on handling efficiency. The system must be flexible in everyday use to realize the benefits of the system.

3. Large sized airports
• Large area to cover
• Handling experience is present
• Special knowhow and experience is present
• Investment in high security and future needs
• Special vehicles are present

For these airports the large area is important to cover without manual handling at all.

To fit the airports different needs, we have developed 4 different systems, which are combinations of optical and camera solutions:

1. Optical, stand-alone system with communication M2M
2. Optical systems with control interface
3. Polarization camera stand alone with control interface
4. Optical system with polarization camera and control interface

By opting for this product differentiation we target narrower customer segments since the customer can decide between 4 different systems. From an optical stand alone system containing of 4 optical sensors, or / and the optical system in combination with a control interface system to a camera solution, as a stand lone integrated with control interface system and finally the most advanced system that benefits the combination of an optical system, camera solution and control interface system.

The market prizes for the 4 system configurations are as follows:
1. Optical stand alone: €6.400
2. Optical + control interface: €72.000
3. Camera + control interface: €97.000
4. Optical + camera + control interface: €169.000
Considering these market prizes and the number of airports it is estimated that the market potential in the defined narrow segment is about 20 mill euros.

Benefits to the EU and political/societal aspects
The Airfield Monitor system will support public policies in Europe in the air traffic sector in numerous ways. Firstly, it will contribute to the economically sustainable running of airports, which is a distinct political priority. In Europe, privatization of airports is ongoing, with efforts most advanced in countries such as Denmark, Germany, UK, Austria and Hungary. The drive toward liberalization of the sector is primarily driven by the strong growth in air traffic and by a growing diversification of airport business models into areas such as commercial revenues from retailing, advertisements, and ground transport and property development.
The implementation of an Airfield Monitor system can directly contribute to the sustainability by lowering operation costs, thus strengthening the competitiveness of individual airports and, therefore, the possibility for airports to function as self-sustaining commercial units, which is a declared priority of most Member States.

The Airfield Monitor project also directly supports the European Community efforts within the air transport field: The Single European Sky policy and the research and development priorities as formulated in the Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative. In particular, the Airfield Monitor project and systems contributes to the elements of the Strategic Research Agenda for aeronautical research, which identifies the optimization of aircraft operations as a major area of concern for airports, coupling efficiency with safety.

In the air traffic management area, the European SESAR initiative aims at developing a new generation air traffic management system capable of ensuring safety and efficiency of air transport throughout Europe over the next 30 years. Specifically, the Airfield Monitor project and systems support SESAR objectives in the context of increased airport safety, environmental improvements and cost reductions for airports. Both in EU and national regulation and policy it is recognized how airports are likely to become the next big capacity constraining factor of European air transport. The Airfield Monitor project and systems are part of the remedy that can address this problem in the context of managing runway control and capacity in an effective manner.

The Airfield Monitor project and systems contribute to European policies in the area of air transport safety. It is recognized that the capacity crunch at airports poses a potential threat to the safety, efficiency and competitiveness of all actors involved in the air transport supply
chain. The Airfield Monitor project and systems addresses this issue primarily by improving the quality of runway surveillance and control. Therefore the AirfieldMonitor systems will be an asset to any airport aiming at reducing accident risk, not only by contributing to effective and safer ground operations but also by reducing the consequences of human error, being therefore in conformity with the ACARE goals for aviation safety.

Finally, by providing airport operators with accurate and specified information regarding the state of runways, a further development of the Airfield Monitor technology to indicate the presence of contaminants it’s likely that the system will aid in reducing the use of chemicals for the anti and de-icing of runways, which most commonly used substances – ethylene glycol or propylene glycol, alone or in combination with calcium magnesium acetate, sodium acetate, sodium format, or urea – often cause a large drop in the dissolved oxygen levels of receiving waters off the airport. As such, the implementation of the Airfield Monitor system will have a positive environmental impact.

Main dissemination activities
The dissemination activities in the project has been conducted through consortium meetings, group meeting, WP meetings, Skype sessions and more. The main dissemination activities are listed below:

Kick-off meeting – October 28, 2010, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
The project launched with a kick-off meeting in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands. All partners as well as representatives from the airport gathered for general project presentations, WP-presentations, group discussions and a social get-together.

2’nd Airfield Monitor Consortium Meeting – April 6-7, 2011, TUDelft, Delft
In April 2011 the project held it’s second consortium meeting, over 2 days, at the premises of
TUDelft in Delft. The purpose was primarily to present the status for every single work package – from 1 through 9 – to give the consortium partners a complete overview of the project. Additionally there were various social activities planned, such as dinner, to give the partners an opportunity to relate under more informal circumstances.

Group meeting – November 24, 2011, Aarhus Airport, Denmark
This meeting was held in order to plan the in-situ airfield measurements in Aarhus Airport, Denmark. The meeting started with a short introduction to the project and then a more thorough presentation of the Liwas sensor. Preparations were conducted to initiate the sensor testing. Testing of the sensor was planned and carried out shortly after the meeting. Later on the polarization camera was included in the test in the Airport.

3’rd Airfield Monitor Consortium Meeting – April 18-19, 2012, IDA, Copenhagen
The focus of this meeting was first to present the new DoW, which was negotiated into place after a partner choose to leave the consortium. Secondly the focus was on the work packages 4, 5, 6 and 7, which are product oriented on both sensors and software.

4’th Airfield Monitor Consortium Meeting – December 11, 2012, Fraunhofer Institute, Erlangen, Nürnberg
The fourth consortium meeting in F-IIS, focused on the advances in the sensor development and testing at Aarhus Airport as well at the development of the business plans. Unfortunately this meeting was characterized by extremely bad winter weather and more of the attendees were forced to cancel their participation due to transportation issues.
Field studies
Field studies and interviews have been carried out at the following airports:
• Copenhagen Airport, Denmark
• Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands
• Norrköping Airport, Sweden
• Linköping Airport, Sweden
• Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden
• St. John’s Airport, Canada
• Frankfurt Fraport Airport, Germany

List of Websites: