ROBOTIC VISION Systems (RVSI) has received its first airline order for the ID-1 wide-area aircraft ice-detection system. Delta Air Lines has ordered four of the hand-held electro-optical systems for use this winter at its main US East Coast airports.

Hauppauge, New York-based RVSI says that the Delta order represents the first deployment anywhere of a wide-area ice-detection system. Delta evaluated the system in Boston in 1995, while the US Federal Aviation Administration and Transport Canada each have systems under test.

The ID-1 is an active system. A light is directed at the wing and the reflected light is analysed by the unit. The result is a false-colour video image in which ice is displayed as white and uncontaminated areas as green. The sensor can see through any water or de-icing fluid, which might mask contamination, RVSI claims, and can be operated in darkness.

The unit provides a simple go/no-go indication, as required by the FAA. When the hand-held sensor is used in conjunction with a de-icing truck, as Delta intends, contamination can be removed quickly and efficiently, the company says.

An aircraft-mounted version should be available within two years. Intended for use on the ground or in the air, it could be used to automatically produce a sequence of images to detect a trend in ice formation. An aircraft-mounted system could also be used to check for contamination immediately before take-off, when the aircraft is inaccessible to a deicing truck, RVSI says.

Source: Flight International