One of Canada’s main airports is to install a sophisticated radar system that can automatically detect debris on the runway.

Vancouver International Airport has bought the Tarsier radar system produced by former UK defence research QinetiQ.

Debris on the runway is a pressing issue for airports, which was highlighted after the Concorde crash in July 2000, in which 113 people died.

Crash investigators believe a piece of metal on the runway might have caused a tyre to burst, flinging debris at a fuel tank and starting a catastrophic fire.

Currently, the airport staff check runways manually, but they can make mistakes in bad weather. Some debris can occasionally remain in the path of aircraft until the next scheduled check.

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The radar developed by QinetiQ has been tested at Heathrow in London, JFK in New York and Vancouver.

The Canadian airport has gone on to buy four Tarsier radar units, which it plans to install next year.

Tarsier radar works like a normal radar but uses a shorter wavelength, counted in millimetres instead of centimetres.

It helps to detect small objects from different materials, including metal, plastic, glass, wood, fibre glass and animal remains.

More here.