Tim Ripley

Scientists at the UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) have recently been instrumental in developing systems to minimise the risk of collisions between police helicopters and other low flying aircraft.

DERA has helped develop two methods of minimising collision risks in conjunction with Dyfed Powys Police Helicopter Support Unit in the UK. The first is the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and the second increases helicopter visibility.

TCAS "...originated in the USA but needed six months of trials and enhancements carried out by DERA to fully test and develop its capabilities," says DERA's Joanna Sale.

"The system monitors air space around the helicopter and gives advisory visual information on the whereabouts of other aircraft. Symbols on the display change as an approaching aircraft gets nearer and it also emits an audible warning if distances between the two aircraft fall below a certain level.

"The Dyfed Powys Helicopter Unit now uses the TCAS system and it is rapidly being taken up by many other units across the country."

Nick O'Brien, from the Dyfed Powys Police Helicopter Unit, says: "The system evaluated by DERA allows our air crew to focus on the job they are there to do, knowing that they have an effective warning system in place if required."

The secondary initiative tackles the need to improve police helicopter visibility. Traditionally, police helicopters were painted mainly white which proved relatively inconspicuous against typical UK skies. Researchers at DERA have developed a blue and yellow colour scheme; the Dyfed Powys Police Helicopter Support Unit was the first to convert its aircraft. The colour scheme is now widely used by police helicopter units across the UK.

"These two schemes have been tested and have proved very effective in making our work even safer," O'Brien adds.

Source: Flight Daily News