Active runways are the most critical parts of the aerodrome surface. The speed of aircraft on runways is considerably higher than on taxiways and the distances needed by aircraft to stop from higher speeds cannot be compared with road traffic. Consequently, international regulations characterize the crossing of active runways as a process which shall be avoided by structural and procedural measures. However, this is not always possible or commercially useful, especially on large and historically grown airports. This is true, as the circumnavigation of a runway may result in substantial time loss and higher fuel costs on the part of the airline. As a result, crossings of active runways are, despite the clear recommendations in the regulations, a standard process on many airports.
The highly precise and reliable MagSense Air is the basis for a Runway Crossing Assistance System, which supports flight crews and vehicle drivers in crossing active runways, making the process significantly safer. An exemplary crossing procedure with the Runway Crossing Assistance System in use could be as follows: When an aircraft approaches a runway holding point, the flight crew is informed on the upcoming active runway by means of automatic VoiceLink synthetic speech message a locally configured distance in front of the holding point. The phraseology and voice (male, female, voice color, etc.) can be adapted according to customer requirements. This raises the attention levels of the pilots and reduces the risk of unawareness.
At the holding point, MagSense Air acts as an element of the A-SMGCS Airport Safety Support Service and protects the actors from unauthorized holding point overruns. In accordance with the customer's needs, the aircraft can be detected by the gears only, or all geometry defining points can be detected. The latter enables identification of the aircraft type by means of an AI classifier and consequently a reconstruction of the position of the complete aircraft in space in real time. As a result, a warning can also be generated when, for example, only a wing tip has entered the protected area.
The aircraft is then guided over the runway according to local procedures, for example by Follow-the-Greens. In this case, a controller input would deactivate the stop bar at the holding point and activated green center line lights would lead the aircraft across the runway. Depending on the local implementation, this process could then be accompanied by an automatic voice message, or by a controller’s radio instruction. When the aircraft has crossed the runway, MagSense Air can recognize that the runway is vacant again and that no part of the aircraft is still in the protected area of the runway.
If the Runway Crossing Assistance System detects a violation of the protected area, an interface between MagSense Air and various optional warning devices in the field can be used to locally provide a visual or auditory warning to flight crews and vehicle drivers, e.g. via flashing lights or via VoiceLink. An additional warning will also be provided to the controller in the control tower via the A-SMGCS Airport Safety Support Service.
In all, the resulting Runway Crossing Assistance System makes these procedures safer for all parties involved. MagSense Air can be used to efficiently and flexibly assist flight crews and vehicle drivers in crossing active runways.