24 March 2006

Smiths selected to make runway debris detection system in USA

MILLITECH, part of the global engineering business Smiths Group, has used its world-leading expertise in millimetre wave design and production to secure a deal to manufacture the award-winning Tarsier runway debris monitoring system in the USA.

The system, developed by the global defence and security company QinetiQ, is designed to provide round-the-clock all-weather detection of airport runway hazards.

The Tarsier system, based on high-resolution millimetre wave radar, is able to detect very small objects, such as a suitcase wheel or a metal nut, to within an accuracy of three metres anywhere on the runway. 

The name "Tarsier" is taken from a primate species in the Malay Archipelago, whose large eyes provide the animals with especially acute night vision.

The system was developed after a piece of debris was found to be a major contributory factor to the Concorde crash in France in 2000.

In addition to the safety issue, the cost of Foreign Objects and Debris (FOD) damage and delays to the global aviation industry is calculated at around $4 billion a year by National Aerospace FOD Prevention Inc (NAFPI).

The initial three year deal with Millitech, part of Smiths Interconnect, will secure future production capability for the Tarsier T1100 millimetre wave radar units.

Millitech Inc, of Northampton, Massachusetts, has provided millimetre wave components and systems for space, military and commercial customers for nearly 25 years.

Production of the Tarsier units will begin this summer and represents an important step forward in meeting the need for reliable debris detection at both civil airports and military airbases around the world.

Paul Cox, President of Smiths Interconnect said that We are very excited by Millitechs opportunity to work alongside QinetiQ on the roll-out of the Tarsier system.  Millitechs capability to develop millimetre wave technology to aid in the development of the system combined with their world class manufacturing operations is an example of Interconnects excellent track record in delivering unique customer focused solutions to deliver important safety systems.

Steve Brittan, Director of QinetiQ Airport Radar, said: I am delighted to have Millitech on board as a manufacturing partner for Tarsier. The move to volume production is recognition of both the maturity of our product and marks a significant milestone in meeting the need for reliable, all-weather and automated debris detection.

Millitech brings valuable capabilities and expertise to the table and will allow us to meet worldwide interest and future demand for the system.

QinetiQ announced the first sale of Tarsier last year when Vancouver International Airport became the first airport in the world to purchase a system. The system, comprising four radar units and covering both of Vancouvers runways, will be installed in May this year and is being produced in-house by QinetiQ.

Tarsier has been trialled extensively at a number of major international airports, including JFK in New York, Dubai International, Sydney International, London Heathrow and four other European airports.

A successful trial was also conducted by the US Air Force at the Dyess Air Force base in Texas last summer. The system has received recognition by winning a number of awards, including the winners prize in the transportation category of Octobers Wall Street Journal Innovation Awards.

ENDS

QinetiQ

QinetiQ (www.QinetiQ.com <http://www.qinetiq.com/> ) is a leading international defence and security technology company that was formed in July 2001 from the UK Governments Defence Evaluation & Research Agency (DERA). Today, QinetiQ has over 11,500 employees, who deliver technology-based services and exploit QinetiQs strengths in technology research by selling systems solutions, products and licences to government and commercial customers in a spectrum of defence, security and other commercial markets. On 15 February 2006, QinetiQ Group plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange main market.