System said to be capable of detecting turbulence and aircraft wake vortices in clear air

EADS is developing a short-pulse Doppler laser radar system that it believes can detect turbulence and aircraft wake vortices in clear air.

The work follows on from Airbus's Awiator (aircraft wing with advanced technology operation) project, which includes studies of turbulence detection using lidar by measuring the Doppler frequency shift of laser pulses reflected by airborne particles. First test flights of the Awiator system are planned for December (Flight International, 9-16 September).

However, Helmut Zinner of the EADS Corporate Research Centre says the Awiator system "requires dust particles suspended in the air - so-called aerosols. One of the most frequent flight hazards, clear air turbulence, cannot be recognised with these systems."

EADS believes use of an ultraviolet short-pulse Doppler lidar could resolve these issues. The target specifications set for the system are a measurement distance of up to 150m (490ft) in front of the aircraft with a spatial resolution of around 10m and a velocity resolution of 200ft/min (1m/s), and operation in clear air up to 40,000ft. Zinner says Michigan Aerospace in the USA is developing a similar system. "We each have a slightly different patented approach, and although we are competitors we also have scientific exchanges," he says. Flight tests are planned for 2005.

Airbus says its Taxi Driver airport ground navigation system planned for the A380 cockpit could be developed into a system to upload datalink clearances from air traffic control, to detect and avoid hazards, and provide steering and braking assistance to the aircraft. The manufacturer is working with EADS subsidiaries ISTAR and APIC to develop an initial database for major airports in Europe and the USA to an accuracy of 5m, using aerial photography, satellite images and available runway and taxiway data.

Source: Flight International