Anti-missile certification nears for Israeli carriers

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Israeli carriers will begin flying international and domestic routes with aircraft equipped for anti-missile defence from mid-2014, pending successful completion of supplemental type certification.

The schedule is contained in an Israeli presentation due to be put to the upcoming ICAO Assembly in Montreal.

It states that there are eight certification applications for the installation of infra-red missile-defence systems on various commercial aircraft types.

These comprise the Boeing 747-400, 777-200 and 767-200 long-haul jets, plus the 757-300, 737-800 and -900ER, as well as the Airbus A320 and Embraer 195.

The 737-800 is the first aircraft to undergo the certification process, says the presentation, the first flight having taken place in June.

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Israel’s Elbit Systems is developing the system, known as C-Music, which is fitted to a pod on the lower aft fuselage. This pod can be replaced within an hour, and aircraft can be dispatched without it by installing a fairing.

“The project is at an advanced stage of certification,” the presentation states.

All three of the main Israeli airlines – El Al, Israir and Arkia –are expected to start flying with the system from the second quarter of next year, it adds, as part of the government’s Sky Shield transport defence initiative.

Israel’s government adopted the policy of equipping civil transport aircraft with anti-missile systems in view of the proliferation of man-portable surface-to-air missile equipment and, in particular, the attack on an Arkia 757-200 at Mombasa in November 2002.

C-Music will be certified as a “not-required” system, on a “non-interference” basis, says the presentation, meaning that certification will ensure installation complies with airworthiness rules, but that the Israeli defence ministry will be responsible for evaluating its performance.

“It will be substantiated during the certification process that installation and operation of the C-Music system do not adversely affect aircraft safety,” it adds. Issues to be examined include vibration and buffet, crew workload and external noise.

C-Music relies on infra-red laser capabilities to disrupt the guidance system of an incoming missile, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel has determined that laser safety is “central” to the success of the certification process, says the presentation.

The subsequent hazard assessment shaped the design of safety mechanisms which prevent projection of laser energy while the aircraft is on the ground.

While airborne the crew and passengers are unaffected by C-Music’s laser, owing to its location, and the infra-red wavelength of the laser lies outside the visible spectrum, eliminating the risk of dazzling people on the ground or seated in other aircraft.