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Airport designs net placements in national FAA competition

Three students with video cameras on tripods.

From left, Andrew Robertson, Sawyer Breslow and Boris Claros collect data at the Columbia Regional Airport for their proposal. Not pictured is teammate Ploi Intaratip.

The Federal Aviation Administration recognized two teams from a University of Missouri College of Engineering class for their 2013 FAA Design Competition for Universities projects.

The competition was a major portion of Associate Professor Carlos Sun’s biennially offered airport engineering course and included seven proposals from the course.

“I decided to integrate the competition into the class because students are very interested in national competitions and the structure of the competition integrates nicely into the class,” Sun said.

One team made of then-seniors Tyler Horn, Austin Ratzki, Ericka Ross and Eric Trupiano won third place in the Airport Environmental Interactions category.

Their proposal, “Providing Secondary Containment for Mobile Refuelers,” looked at designing a cost-efficient solution to address a backup containment system for mobile refuelers at the Lees Summit Municipal Airport in the event of a fuel spill.

“This was specifically contained to where refuelers are parked,” team leader Horn said.

Secondary fuel containment is a system designed to hold fuel in the event the primary containment system fails. Looking for the most cost-efficient solution, the team looked at six design scenarios that featured one or more methods used to prevent or treat fuel spills. The top design consisted of a paved parking pad surrounded by dikes, berms and a gate valve that Horn said could contain a spill overnight until airport personnel returned in the morning.

The costs associated with fuel spill containment represent a greater challenge for a smaller airport, Horn said, which is why his team opted for a simpler design.

The team members split a $1,000 prize for the third place finish.

A second MU team consisting of graduate students Andrew Robertson, Sawyer Breslow, Boris Claros and Ploisongsaeng Intaratip received honorable mention in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions category for its proposal, “Application of Highway Video Detection Software to Assist in Runway Incursion Mitigation.”

“We focused on having automatic video surveillance for runway incursions,” Roberston said.

Runway incursions involve unauthorized aircraft, vehicles or persons that hinder runway safety by affecting a plane’s ability to safely land or takeoff. The team members, all of who have extensively studied traffic engineering, devised a way to implement an image detection system for airport runways.

“Autoscope is used to count highway vehicles,” Robertson said. “Highway surveillance costs a fraction of what airport surveillance costs.”

Robertson and his team tested their design at the Columbia Regional Airport, filming activity to simulate air traffic control cameras on the airfield’s two runways and tested that footage to see if, like cars on a highway, the software could detect incursions. The team’s system, called an Encroachment Detection Alarm Software (EDAS), could be implemented into existing air traffic control cameras.

The team members split a $500 prize for their honorable mention.

The FAA Design Competition for Universities is an annual competition that began in 2007. Sun’s airport engineering course was taught last fall and introduces students to the engineering aspects of airports, including planning, design and management.