Airport Safety

Project focuses on identifying glide-path obstructions around U.S. airfields

by / January 15, 2003
Albuquerque, NM - The Earth Data Analysis Center (EDAC) at the University of New Mexico said today that it is making significant progress, in conjunction with a consortium of seven private companies, on the Airfield Initiative Remote Sensing Technologies Evaluation Project (AIRSTEP). AIRSTEP is examining the potential of remote sensing technologies to meet the needs of airport safety, security and management. EDAC and its partners are working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and NASA in developing this program.

The private partners include Solid Terrain Modeling (3-D solid terrain models), BAE Systems (ClearFlite software), Bohannan Huston, Inc. (quality assessment/quality control), Airborne 1 (LiDAR technology), I.K. Curtis Services (aerial photography), the Keith Companies (ground control for LiDAR and aerial photography), and Bergstralh-Shaw-Newman, Inc. (AIRSTEP training materials for airport managers). This dynamic partnership is evaluating and implementing remote sensing applications to improve the safety and security of American airports.

Rick Watson, EDAC senior research scientist, said, "We initiated a case study on the Santa Barbara Airport to analyze and evaluate remote sensing applications. We introduced the use of solid terrain models of the airport and vicinity to illustrate airport runway approaches and their relationship to the local terrain. Using transparent 3-D model overlays, we can illustrate, in a realistic and easily understood way, the relationship of air traffic routes to terrain, buildings, and other objects that may pose a threat to approaching aircraft."

"This case study had an interesting challenge for Solid Terrain Modeling: a requirement to display the limits of two different airspace surfaces just above the surface of the solid terrain model," commented Mark Fisher, Solid Terrain Modeling executive vice president. "We used CAD data files which described the surfaces and then created molds with our existing equipment. Our process enabled us to render the surface representations in a transparent material. The surfaces are interchangeable and placed on top of the terrain model, so the viewer can clearly understand the relationship of different complex airspaces in the context of surrounding terrain."