The wakes from aircraft taking off or landing on the closely spaced parallel runways on the south side of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport are now being tracked by lidar (laser radar) in a trial directed by Eurocontrol,   Aeroports de Paris and French air navigation service provider the DSNA.

The objective is to determine the optimum way of operating aircraft at this specific site so as to be able to increase the number of movements the runway pair can handle without the wakes generated by one aircraft upsetting others, according to Eurocontrol.

This is the first of several wake-measuring lidar trials to be mounted in Europe, with others due to be set up at Frankfurt Main and London Heathrow airports over the next year. The lidar, a Lockheed Martin Coherent Technologies Windtracer tracks the behaviour of the turbulent air behind aircraft as they take off and land using an ‘eye-safe’ infrared laser which is reflected by particles in the air, allowing a sensor to capture and analyse information about their movement.

During the Single European Sky SESAR definition phase, monitoring of wake vortices was identified as a critical tool for improving safety and increasing runway capacity. Eurocontrol says: “Knowledge of the behaviour of wake vortices under specific meteorological conditions could be used to reduce the International Civil Aviation Organisation recommended separation minima between aircraft.”