Posted by John McHaleHACKENSACK, N.J., 24 May 2010. I.D. Systems, Inc., and Garmin International, Inc., entered into a distribution agreement to deliver a new airport safety product.The product -- SafeNav Powered by Garmin -- is an on-vehicle, GPS-based navigation and alert system designed to provide airport vehicle operators with real-time situational awareness, with the goal of avoiding accidental runway incursions. Initial shipments of SafeNav are expected to commence later this year.The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has placed runway incursions on its most wanted list of transportation safety improvements every year since the list's inception in 1990. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has similarly made "reduction in the number and severity of runway incursions" one of its top priorities. In an Advisory Circular, the FAA states: "the control of vehicular activity on the airside of an airport is of the highest importance. The airport operator is responsible for developing procedures, procuring equipment, and providing training regarding vehicle operations to ensure aircraft and personnel safety." In the same document, Garmin officials say the FAA attributes incidents involving aircraft and ground vehicles, in part, to inadequate visual aids and vehicle operator training, and encourages airport operators to "establish procedures and policies concerning vehicle access and vehicle operation on the airside of the airport." The FAA emphasizes that special consideration should be given to vehicle operations during low visibility conditions, such as rain, snow and fog, which may obscure airport markings and diminish vehicle operators' situational awareness, company officials say.SafeNav Powered by Garmin enhances the situational awareness of airport vehicle operators -- regardless of visibility and other external conditions -- by providing an on-vehicle moving map of the vehicle's location on the airport, company officials say. SafeNav has: - built-in maps of more than 950 U.S. airports, based on the reference airport diagrams used by aircraft equipped with Garmin's SafeTaxi system; - real-time tracking of vehicle location on the airport via a 4.3-inch, wide-format, touchscreen display; - built-in geo-fencing algorithms to define airport runways; - risk-weighted color coding on maps to alert vehicle operators visually to potential runway incursions; and - automatic audible alarming to alert vehicle operators aurally to potential runway incursions. "SafeNav will not only assist experienced vehicle operators at night and during periods of low-visibility, it will serve as an important safety tool for new or transient vehicle operators who are unfamiliar with the airport’s taxiways and runways," says Gary Kelley, Garmin’s vice president of marketing. SafeNav is available both as a standalone safety device and as a complementary extension of I.D. Systems' AvRamp Wireless Vehicle Management System, which provides safety controls, maintenance monitoring, and utilization analysis for fleets of airport vehicles.SafeNav by itself supports several of the FAA's "Best Practices for Airfield Safety," including:- distributing current airport diagrams for use in airside vehicles; - training vehicle drivers where to look for airport traffic when pilots and the control tower are silent; and - improving airport safety by stressing and understanding situational awareness. "SafeNav essentially brings the safety functions of our successful SafeTaxi system from the cockpits of aircraft into the cabs of airside airport vehicles," Kelley says. "We are committed to using our technology to increase situational awareness in the air and on the ground, and we look forward to working with I.D. Systems to bring SafeNav to the airport vehicle market." Using SafeNav in conjunction with I.D. Systems' AvRamp system satisfies another FAA best practice: ensuring that personnel with access to vehicles in the airport area of operations (AOA) have appropriate authorization and driver training.AvRamp -- which was developed in part through Transportation Security Administration funding and is FAA-approved -- provides a wide range of vehicle safety, security, and operational functions, including: automatic on-vehicle driver authentication and access control; electronic safety inspection checklists; speed monitoring and impact sensing; real-time location tracking; remote vehicle shutdown/lockout; and fleet productivity optimization tools. AvRamp is currently deployed at two major U.S. airports: Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O'Hare."The SafeNav concept was a natural extension of the comprehensive safety functionality we provide with AvRamp," says Peter Fausel, I.D. Systems' executive vice president of sales. "We are thrilled to collaborate with Garmin, which has become a household name by providing some of the world's most innovative and successful navigation products. We see SafeNav as another great idea for improving airport safety."