Spanish airport operator Aena has launched a pioneering project at San Sebastián Airport that detects FODs (foreign objects debris) on the runway in real time

Luis Canon, director of innovation and customer experience at Aena, said: “The search for new technologies for the detection of FODs arises from a strategic decision of the company to be even more efficient in the processes of operational security at airports, creating a novel solution adapted to the rhythms of today’s society in terms of sustainability and digitalisation.”

The project

The project uses a drone that, equipped with sensors and cameras, captures and transmits images of the airport runway in real time, warning of the detection of a foreign object and geolocating it.

The solution, which has been developed by French digital technology specialists Inetum, uses an algorithm based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse these images in real time, transmitting them through 5G connectivity Aena and Cellnex have installed at San Sebastián Airport, the first private network based on 5G technology in Spanish airports and one of the first in the European airports sector.

Inetum worked alongside Invicsa Airtech, a Spanish start-up that offers drone design, optimisation and operation. Vicomtech, an applied technology research centre specialising in AI, visual computing and interaction, also took part in the project, bringing a management methodology that ensures process optimisation and the transparent transfer of technology.  

A drone at San Sebastián Airport
A drone at San Sebastián Airport Aena