APIA Project


  • The objective of the project is to investigate a new system for managing the quality of airport runway pavement. This system would improve the runway maintenance process for airports by enabling a more efficient automated night time capability to inspect and identify defects in runway pavement.

Given that aircraft take-off and landing procedures pose some of the greatest risks to flight safety, maintaining the runway in good condition is critically important to airports. The criticality is such that the American Federal Aviation Administration devotes an important amount of funds to the study and implementation of various technologies to improve the conditions of the airport pavement.

All pavement areas of an airport upon which aircraft operate deteriorates with the use and passage of time, gradually losing its superficial and structural characteristics. There are many types of deterioration, which must be detected and corrected to maintain the required levels of safety and at the same time reduce maintenance costs.

The This project will focus on investigating and developing a system that automatically detects, measures and evaluates flaws, and therefore makes a series of recommendations (preventive maintenance plan). To this end, a manned vehicle set up for night time inspections, will be fitted with a set of sensors that are integrated to an artificial intelligence system for processing the information. Technologies will be developed that allow the development of an intelligent multi-sensory system, the generation of a visual model representative of the state of the paved surface, application of artificial intelligence algorithms for the recognition of representative patterns of pavement defects, allowing an automatic classification of said Defects and in short, the development of an airport management platform that encompasses the capabilities derived from the achievement of the above objectives.

Vanguard technological innovations

Currently, the processes of evaluating the condition of runway pavement at airports is done manually by an operator who visually inspects and catalogs the type and severity of pavement deterioration. The current method of inspection requires daylight, and therefore access to the runway during peak times when the airport is operating. The main innovations of APIA to the state of the art are the following:

Carrying out night inspections: a multisensory system will be designed, which will allow data collection on the tarmac at night, while the airport is closed. There are many airports where the volume of operations during the day is so high that it is not possible to conduct daytime inspections.

Automation of the inspection process: the inspection process is automated, drastically reducing operating costs, and subjectivity in the classification of deterioration.

Multisensory fusion and artificial intelligence: a system of advanced sensors and an artificial intelligence system will be used to minimize errors in the classification and analysis of runway deterioration. To date there is no solution that integrates such a number and variety of sensors (ultrasonic, laser, thermographic cameras, electromagnetic sensors, vision ...) because most of the solutions are designed to be executed by an operator.

Electromagnetic Sensor: Research and development of a new sensor, Ontech´s patented controlled magnetic fields technology, with the objective evaluating the feasibility of this technology to perform mapping of 2D terrain.




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