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Detection and measurement of beam deflection in the Madeira Airport runway extension using digital image correlation

Francisco Barros (INEGI, Porto, Portugal)
Susana Aguiar (INEGI, Porto, Portugal)
Pedro J. Sousa (INEGI, Porto, Portugal)
António Cachaço (INEGI, Porto, Portugal)
Nuno V. Ramos (INEGI, Porto, Portugal)
Paulo Tavares (INEGI, Porto, Portugal)
P.M.G. Moreira (INEGI, Porto, Portugal)
Luís Oliveira Santos (Laboratorio Nacional de Engenharia Civil, Lisboa, Portugal)
Min Xu (Laboratorio Nacional de Engenharia Civil, Lisboa, Portugal)
Elsa Franco (ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal, SA, Santa Cruz, Portugal)

International Journal of Structural Integrity

ISSN: 1757-9864

Article publication date: 17 November 2022

Issue publication date: 8 February 2023




Part of the runway at Madeira Airport is a platform above the sea at a 60 m height, supported by a series of frames. When aircraft land on this section, a load is exerted on the structure, resulting in bending of the beams which constitute the frames. A vision-based monitoring system was devised and implemented to measure the deflection of the runway's beams when a landing occurs.


An area on the midspan of two beams, located on the area where aircraft are most likely to land, was prepared with a speckle pattern, and a camera was assembled above a column on each of the adjacent frames, enabling the computation of displacements using digital image correlation (DIC). The camera continuously acquires images of the monitored area and compares them to a reference using DIC. If a displacement is detected, a number of frames before and after this event are saved for further DIC processing.


The installed systems successfully detected several events corresponding to landings and, for each of those events, measured the deflection of the beams over time and computed displacement fields for critical images, with strain values obtained up to this point being too small to measure using the current system.


This work provides novel insights into the behaviour of a unique structure and constitutes the first use of a vision system in its structural monitoring operations. It is also a valuable development in the implementation of automated DIC monitoring systems in locations of difficult access.



This work was developed in the frame of project MEGE – Monitorização Estrutural de Grandes Estruturas, with reference number M1420-01-0247-FEDER-000030, funded by operational Program Madeira 14-20, PROCiência 2020, Sistema de Incentivos à Produção de Conhecimento Científico e Tecnológico da Região Autónoma da Madeira.


Barros, F., Aguiar, S., Sousa, P.J., Cachaço, A., Ramos, N.V., Tavares, P., Moreira, P.M.G., Oliveira Santos, L., Xu, M. and Franco, E. (2023), "Detection and measurement of beam deflection in the Madeira Airport runway extension using digital image correlation", International Journal of Structural Integrity, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 103-115.



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