Amphitech International will launch an obstacle awareness radar optimised for helicopters at this month's Farnborough air show after successful tests of the OASys product.

Even in fog, the millimetre-wave radar gives pilots warning of obstacles like power lines, pylons, trees, towers, terrain and other aircraft, says Canadian manufacturer Amphitech. The system has three modes: obstacle mode, which varies what it shows to optimise pilot information at either take-off or in the cruise, landing mode and weather mode.

At take-off, the "look angle" is wide and the focus close, to identify nearby obstacles while the helicopter is flying slowly. In the cruise, obstacle mode gives 2km (1nm) warning visually and aurally of threats, using a narrow beam to give greater range and faster scan.

In landing mode, the flat-panel display acts as a three-dimensional ground proximity warning system, providing an elevation situation display. Weather mode has a 70km range and can provide ground mapping in offshore operations.

Amphitech's OASys specialist Yves Lamontaine says the tests, carried out with the Canadian National Research Council at Ottawa Airport, were conducted at the new system's "shakedown" stage. "The verification of the narrow beam and sidelobe control/ rejection were of paramount importance to validating the design of the OASys radar, and we are very pleased with these results," says Lamontaine.

A high proportion of helicopter accidents is attributed to collision with terrain, stationary or moving objects. A number of technological developments are aimed at reducing the problem. German company Heliradar Technologies, for example, is developing a rotating synthetic aperture radar system designed to give helicopters "true all-weather capability", which it hopes to certificate by mid-2003 (Flight International, 11-17 July).

Source: Flight International