BAE Systems believes that even if the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides not to mandate the use of countermeasure systems on US commercial aircraft, airlines will go ahead and install the systems in light of the growing threat from missile attack.

Airlines are becoming very interested in countermeasure systems, recognising the real threat following recent incidents involving missile attacks on commercial aircraft, says Art Heckler, director of international business development.

Installation of the systems could even affect airline bottom lines, with Heckler suggesting that passengers would switch to airlines that have the devices on their aircraft.

BAE started evaluating the market at least a year before it won the DHS contract to investigate the feasibility of equipping civil aircraft with countermeasure devices. "It became obvious to us that it would be a required capability and we started talking to airlines to assess the market," Heckler says.


BAE has also had discussions with DHL on providing a solution to protect the cargo operator's fleet following the attack late last year on a DHL freighter leaving Baghdad. DHL is "very interested" in protecting its aircraft, he says.

BAE is heading an industry team adapting its Matador infrared countermeasures system for use on commercial aircraft as part of its contract from the DHS. It has secured an agreement with a US airline to test the device on a commercial airliner, with flight tests scheduled for the second half of this year, says Heckler.

BAE believes that addressing airline cost issues is vital to the development, with Heckler confident that a commercial solution can be developed for below $500,000. "We need to focus on a cost-effective solution – $1 million is too expensive," he says.

Minimal modifications would be required for the commercial market, says Heckler, with the system to be installed on the belly of the aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News