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Smart Aircraft Lights for Aircraft Safety Applications

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000236133D
Publication Date: 2014-Apr-08
Document File: 6 page(s) / 172K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

George Papageorgiou: INVENTOR

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to present how aircraft lights can be used to build safety applications complimentary to TCAS and EGPWS that mitigate collisions for all airspace users. An exemplary system implemented on an aircraft light, called smart aircraft light includes a surveillance sensor, navigation sensor and a processor. The processor receives surveillance and navigation information from respective sensors, and outputs air traffic and ground obstacle situation awareness and/or alerting and/or collision avoidance information to a user interface. The user interface could be an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) or any other avionics display such as Primary Flight Display (PFD) or Multi-Functional Display (MFD), which could be wireless or wired to the smart lights.

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Smart Aircraft Lights for Aircraft Safety Applications

George Papageorgiou

ABSTRACT

The objective of this paper is to present how aircraft lights can be used to build safety applications complimentary to TCAS and EGPWS that mitigate collisions for all airspace users. An exemplary system implemented on an aircraft light, called smart aircraft light includes a surveillance sensor, navigation sensor and a processor. The processor receives surveillance and navigation information from respective sensors, and outputs air traffic and ground obstacle situation awareness and/or alerting and/or collision avoidance information to a user interface. The user interface could be an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) or any other avionics display such as Primary Flight Display (PFD) or Multi-Functional Display (MFD), which could be wireless or wired to the smart lights.


1. Introduction

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation, 14 C.F.R. 91.113, requires "when weather conditions permit, regardless of whether operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear." This section clearly describes that the primary mechanism of Mid-Air Collision (MAC) avoidance is the pilot's application of 'see and avoid' principle. Therefore, since 1990's, the FAA has required aircraft equipped with Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) [also known as Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS)] to avoid the incidence of MACs between aircrafts. TCAS monitors the airspace around an aircraft for other aircraft equipped with a corresponding active transponder, independent of air traffic control, and warns pilots of the presence of other transponder-equipped aircraft which may present a threat of MAC. Another safety product, Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) was developed to address Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) and collisions


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with ground obstacles. The EGPWS uses a database that contains information about terrain and ground obstacles.

TCAS is designed for larger aircrafts as its logic assumes larger aircraft dynamics, to address MACs in managed airspace (airspace classes A, B and C) and for TCAS to function, the intruder aircraft needs to be equipped with a transponder. This is typically the case in managed airspace but not necessarily the case in unmanaged airspace (airspace classes D, E, F and G). Currently, the EGPWS database does not contain obstacles smaller than 200ft in height. Thus, EGPWS does not "know" of smaller obstacles, i.e., obstacles smaller than 200 ft in height.

There are approximately 15 MACs per year in European unmanaged airspace [1]. Also, there are numerous accidents (many of them fatal) involving air...