According to Boeing, 13 percent of all fatal aircraft accidents happen during takeoff. In some cases, it's because the plane goes off the end of the runway before becoming airborne. A new portable device is designed to keep that from happening.
Ordinarily, pilots will know if a given length of runway is long enough for a plane of a specific weight to take off. That only applies, however, if all the variables are as they should be.
"If the aircraft's engine is not working properly, if the cross or back wind component is too big, the air is too humid, the takeoff field is too rough, slippery or wet, the pilot is left to rely on his or her subjective opinion whether the aircraft will reach the required speed for takeoff in the given distance or not," says Dr. Darijus Pagodinas, of Lithuania's Kaunas University of Technology.
With that in mind, a team led by Pagodinas and Prof. Vytautas Dumbrava has developed a device that combines accelerometer data with information regarding the aircraft's required takeoff speed, current wind speed/direction, and the length of the runway. Within 10 seconds of the plane beginning to accelerate down the runway, the device determines if it will have enough room to reach the speed necessary for takeoff. An alarm will sound if failure is predicted, still leaving the pilot with enough time to safely stop.
Although the current prototype version of the device is designed for use in light aircraft, it could reportedly easily be scaled up for use in commercial airliners. The university is now looking for airlines that are interested in testing the technology in their flights.
"Our innovation would increase safety of air travelling," says Pagodinas. "I have had numerous conversations with experienced captains having ten thousand hours of flight experience, and they are convinced that an objective system, which informs about takeoff conditions is needed."
Source: Kaunas University of Technology
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