Detroit Metro Airport to Install Tracking Technology to Speed Accident Awareness


Ground-based vehicles operating on the airfield at Detroit Metropolitan Airport will soon be sending a signal showing their exact location to both Air Traffic Control and the airport’s Operational Control Center, to improve safety, the Wayne County Airport Authority announced today.

“Safety is the No. 1 priority at our airports,” says Thomas Naughton, CEO of the Wayne County Airport Authority, which operates the international airport. “Allowing (Air Traffic Control and the operational control center) to monitor certain vehicles on the (aircraft operating area) not only improves safety by improving situational awareness, but enhances efficiency when responding to possible incidents as well.”

To facilitate the data transfer, the authority will install new technology, called vehicle movement area transponders, in nearly 50 vehicles that operate on the airfield. The related software, provided through Herndon, Va.-based Exelis, will then display aircraft and ground vehicle tracking data on portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. 

Currently, vehicles check in via radio with Air Traffic Control for identification and are not visible in the Operational Control Center.

“Having the vehicle identification displayed should enhance our dispatch’s identification of vehicle assets for airfield job assignments,” says Diane Walker, director of airfield operations. “Another advantage is that if an incident occurs, (the technology) will give the Airport Authority (Operational Control Center) capability to view a display and contact the closest emergency vehicle for a faster, more efficient response time.”

Installation of the new technology is expected to be completed next spring.