By Barbara Cockburn
Dubai International Aiport has bought a radar system that detects debris on airport runways, in a deal worth $2 million. Developed by defence technology and security company QinetiQ, the Tarsier radar system can detect potentially dangerous debris on runways, and was signed off last month at the Farnborough Airshow by Dubai's Department of Civil Aviation.
Debris on runways is a major safety, cost and operational issue for airports and airlines. The estimated worldwide annual cost of debris damage and delays is $4 billion.
Runway inspections normally involve detection from a moving vehicle every four hours, but night-time or bad weather often causes difficulty in spotting small pieces of debris.
Tarsier inspects the runway continuously, with no disruption to aircraft movements, and is unaffected by changes in light and weather conditions.
QinetiQ said in a statement, that over the course of last year’s five day demonstration to the airport, covering both of the airport's runways, “the all-weather, 24/7 system performed fully automatic detection and location of a variety of representative test debris items such as metal bolts, a small section of a carbon fibre grill and plastic and glass bottles.
The demonstration also included the simultaneous real time detection of more than 30 pieces of rubber tyre in a simulated tyre “blow-out”.
Tarsier was successfully trialled at Dubai last November.The system, already installed at Vancouver International Airport, is expected be installed later this year at Dubai International Airport.
DCA head and chairman of Emirates Group, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said: “Runway safety is absolute priority for Dubai International Airport and we are continually looking for ways of minimising potential risks. “In addition to the safety benefits we also expect to see cost and operational benefits.
“We are also negotiating with QinetiQ about the potential installation of Tarsier at Dubai World Central, Dubai's airport city development at Jebel Ali.”
Gavin Richardson, managing director of QinetiQ Airport Technologies, said: “Dubai International Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the world and is also recognised as one of the world's premier aviation hubs.
He added: “I am delighted that Dubai's forward looking approach to new technology will now lead to the installation of Tarsier. The decision signals the latest important advance for our Tarsier business."
Commenting on the decision to buy Tarsier, Sheikh Ahmed said: “Dubai Airport has been actively following the development of the Tarsier programme over the past few years and when the project was launched we were very keen to ensure that it was installed.