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Aberdeen Airport places its bets on Artificial Intelligence to maintain its runways

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Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Airports’s Website
Aberdeen Airport Places Its Bets on AI

At Ferrovial Airports we go a step beyond the standards for airport pavement inspection by performing pilot tests that incorporate an artificial intelligence tool to check the condition of runways and taxiways at Aberdeen Airport.

The condition of the pavement at runways and taxiways is one of the key factors to ensure the safe and efficient performance of airport operations. In addition to having a direct impact on the safety of passengers and workers, any pavement anomaly could generate additional costs and hinder the operation of an airport

Currently, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other Regulatory Bodies  establish a minimum pavement inspection process shared by all airports, so it is the responsibility of each operator to increase the frequency and depth of the inspection.

Artificial intelligence to control and prevent possible risks on runways

To control and anticipate possible risks related to runway conditions, Aberdeen Airport has committed to artificial intelligence in a pilot program carried out over the course of 9 months.

To try to control and anticipate the possible risks linked to the conditions of the runway, we have opted for artificial intelligence in a pilot program carried out for 9 months. We opted for the use of a tool that would reduce and operate in maximum safety conditions.

The purpose of VIOMINER, the name given to this initiative, is to strengthen the manual inspection carried out by airport professionals.

This solution was developed in cooperation with Vaisala – a Finnish company that develops, manufactures, and commercializes products and services for environmental and industrial measurements- and with the team at Aberdeen Airport.

Up till then, our technicians specialized in identifying the possible bad condition of the pavement divided their inspections into three levels:

  • A first inspection done by technicians in a vehicle twice a day.
  • The second one, which is carried out by managers on foot once a month.
  • A third phase done by managers and consultants on foot twice a year.

With a mobile app and web-based platform, the new tool with Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence can identify anomalies such as cracks, abrasion, and potholes, increasing the effectiveness of level 1 and 2 inspections.

During level 1 and through a cell phone integrated into the vehicle, VIOMINER records the runway as it travels. The data collected is loaded into the system and processed. Artificial Intelligence algorithms recognize anomalies in the pavement and create a heatmap of the paths visited.

During level 2 inspections, the manager carries out a more qualitative study of a anomalies by sending a photo and the exact location of the spot by GPS.

All of this information, along with what the professionals have already collect, enables the generation of reports for each anomaly. These are then summed into the data and into a satellite map, which allows register of historical data and creating reports faster and timely manner.

This solution is a clear example of how innovation and new technologies can help improve the operational and economic performance of airports and, above all, demonstrate how anticipating risks can be a competitive advantage in the future.

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