A prototype onboard wake-vortex warning system could be ready for testing in three years through co-operation between Israel and the European Union, writes Arie Egozi.

The potential hazards of wake vortices place limits on the number of aircraft in an airport's airspace. The warning system would eventually be placed on board commercial aircraft, with the prototype potentially being tested in 2007. By detecting the vortices at ranges of up to 7km (3.78nm), researchers think runway use could be increased. The vortices are detected using a fibre laser that has been developed by Israeli company Elop Electro-Optics Industries.

Dr Gabi Sarusi, chief scientist and director of business and technology development at El Op says: "The idea is to use a coherent laser radar that works in a similar way to a Doppler radar." A Doppler radar is a more efficient detector.

The European Commission has funded the programme with €4.8 million ($6 million) and each of the participating companies will invest additional money. The Israeli company, which refers to the project as the Fidelio programme, is working with Thales, Dassault, the French government's aerospace research agency Onera and some other European research institutes.

NASA has been supporting work on a ground-based wake-turbulence sensing system. The laser-based acoustic sensor has shown it can track vortices from a range of aircraft on approach.

Source: Flight International