ALTACAS aircraft crash avoidance system uses lasers for safer takeoffs and landings

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The ALTACAS system uses lasers to scan the area ahead of an aircraft to warn of potential collision hazards

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Takeoffs and landings account for 66 percent of fatal air accidents, but current air traffic control systems are designed mainly to monitor aircraft that are in mid-flight. To help fill this gap, ALTACAS Technology has developed its Aerial, Landing, & Takeoff Aircraft Crash Avoidance System (ALTACAS). Designed to be retrofitted to current aircraft and as a supplement to existing next-generation air traffic control and crash avoidance systems, it uses lasers and microprocessors to monitor runways and flight paths during takeoffs and landings.

ALTACAS is an automated system designed to allow inbound and outbound aircraft to independently monitor runways and approach/landing airways for safer taxiing, takeoffs, and landings by providing more information and situational awareness. The system also acts an anti-collision system during flight. It works by tracking other aircraft and potential hazards in the air and on the ground, and calculates if they're on a collision course. If so, it provides the pilot, the other aircraft, and ground control with visual and audible warnings.

Designed to act independently or in concert with other ALTACAS units installed in other aircraft and on airfields, its most visible component is a Multidirectional Radar And Housing (MRAH) that mounts on the wings or fuselage and consists of a rotating, hemispherical, aerodynamic housing containing Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors and receivers. Supplemented by conventional radar, the LIDAR uses invisible pulsed laser beams to scan for and track potential hazards to a range of several miles.

The second part of the system is the Control And Processing Unit (CAPU), which is made up of a central processor and the cockpit controls and display. This connects to the Remote Processing Unit (RPU) installed in the airfield's traffic control system. Also on the airfield is the ground sensors or Sensor Activated Lighting Apparatus (SALA). These keep track of taxiing aircraft and turn the field landing lights from blue to red to warn if the runway is unavailable to an approaching aircraft, if there's another aircraft in a runway intersection, or if a maintenance vehicle is where it shouldn't be.

In operation, the pilot feeds flight information into the ALTACAS system, such as takeoff weight, airspeed, and wind speed. The system then scans the runway ahead and above the aircraft. If it detects another aircraft on the ground or in the air, or some other potential hazard, such as a ground vehicle or a UAV, it uses the flight data along with GPS tracking to calculate whether it's on a collision course. If the answer is positive, it then sounds an audible warning and sends a cockpit warning message that notes the urgency of the hazard. Meanwhile, it sends similar warnings to the other aircraft and ground control and opens up three-way radio communications to resolve the problem.

After takeoff, the system continues to monitor the takeoff corridor for approaching aircraft, then makes 360-degree scans in mid-flight to supplement the other crash avoidance systems. During landings, it continues to monitor through touchdown and taxiing.

ALTACAS Technology says that the technology can also be adapted for ships and trains and is available for licensing or sales.

The video below outlines the features of the ALTACAS system.

Source: ALTACAS

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