Xsight argues for protection of foreign-object detection radar

Xsight Systems, which supplies foreign object debris (FOD) technology to streamline takeoff and landing schedules for aircraft, is urging the FCC to protect existing and future FOD systems from interference as it considers rules on radar services in the 76-81 GHz band.

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Xsight's FODetect products are installed at airports to detect foreign object debris on runways. (Image source: Xsight)

"Xsight generally supports the commission's efforts to unify these radar technologies under one licensing model and one allocated frequency band, provided that doing so does not result in interference to Xsight's existing or future operations," the company said in its FCC filing.

Xsight formed after the 2000 crash of the Concorde in France that resulted in 113 deaths. The French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety determined that a metal strip lying on the runway cut one of the aircraft's tires on takeoff, leading to a shockwave that ruptured the plane's fuel tank and contributed to the crash.

Since starting work in 2001, Xsight's team has been on a mission to design and build products that successfully identify and locate foreign-object debris on airport surfaces. Its FOD detection units constantly scan the runway for any form of FOD, including metal, wildlife and snow.

A typical deployment involves FOD detection units containing both an electro-optical camera and radar operating in the 76-77 GHz band. Dual-technology sensors provide notification when FOD is detected, and runway crews are alerted via Xight's software on their tablets and mobile devices.

Xsight's FODetect product is an automated solution collocated with runway edge lights to improve runway safety and operational efficiency and increase runway capacity. The system automatically separates birds from other FOD types, then automatically alerts the airport's wildlife team of incidents in real time, both day and night.

Xsight recently was awarded a contract to install its products at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and plans to be operational there by the end of the year. Its products are operational at four airports: Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Boston Logan and Suvarnabhumi Bangkok.

The company says its FOD detection products use highly directional millimeter-wave antennas and do not incur any interference from currently deployed vehicular radars. The company also says it doesn't anticipate incurring unacceptable levels of interference from vehicular radars in the unified 76-81 GHz band.

In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Reconsideration Order issued in February, the FCC proposes to authorize radar applications in the 76-81 GHz band. The commission is seeking comment on proposals that include allocation changes to the bands as well as provisions to ensure that new and incumbent operations can share the available frequencies.

In the proceeding, Honeywell International asks that the FCC clarify that its rules do not prohibit the operation of 76-77 GHz band radar devices located on aircraft while the aircraft are on the ground. Honeywell envisions its radar application helping aircraft avoid collisions with other aircraft, stationary objects and service vehicles. "Wingtip radar" refers to radar used while aircraft are on the ground to prevent and/or mitigate the severity of aircraft wing collisions while planes are moving between gates and runways.

Xsight said in its filing that it is willing to work with Honeywell to engage in "mutual exchanges of information and testing to demonstrate that both systems can coexist without interference." Xsight said it welcomes the opportunity to reinitiate the dialog it started with Honeywell in 2013, which did not evolve beyond the exchange of correspondence.

For more:
- read the filing

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