Ground-based turbulence mitigation system could be deployed by 2008, says US aviation agency official

A senior US Federal Aviation Administration official revealed last week that research funding for a new ground-based wake mitigation system designed for use at airports with closely spaced parallel runways could lead to implementation during fiscal year 2008.

The FAA plans to allocate $4.07 million for research and development in FY07 for the wake turbulence work. This includes a $3.07 million contribution from the agency’s research, engineering and development (RE&D) budget as well as $1 million from the facilities and equipment budget.

Such funding, says FAA director of aviation research Joan Bauerlein, will allow the regulator to complete its evaluation of a prototype system known as wake turbulence mitigation for departure (WTMD) being developed by NASA to better separate aircraft during take-off, when wake is a major concern.

But testing is only one of the FAA’s tasks. Bauerlein, who was speaking in Washington during an agency budget briefing sponsored by the Air Traffic Control Association, says the FAA must determine how to raise the additional $2.92 million it requires for an initial deployment in 2008.

In addition to the WTMD programme, the FAA has also requested FY07 funding for pulselaser imaging detection and ranging, a system that detects and tracks wake turbulence and evaluates crosswinds.

The FAA’s 2007 budget request, which has come under intense scrutiny from the US Congress for its bias toward operations at the expense of airport funding and capital expenditure, also includes funding to address ageing aircraft issues, aircraft separation standards, airport technologies and runway incursions.

Funding has also been requested for increased research into unmanned aerial systems and how they can be safely operated within US airspace. This will include investigating current technological capabilities to determine potential traffic conflicts and reviewing the safety implications of system performance impediments to command, control and communications, says Bauerlein.


Source: Flight International