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''Park Distance Control'' On Airliners?

Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:39 am

The many threads about aircraft hitting each other or clipping their wings as of recent got me thinking: Why don't manufacturers simply install little sensors on aircraft (nose, tail, wings) that would, similar to the park distance control in cars, auto-brake the aircraft or at least give an audible warning before an impending impact?

I understand that great new ground control technologies are currently being developed and installed on many airports but as this technology will never be available on all airports, wouldn't it make sense to install something as simple, cheap and light as ''radar distance control''?

(Dubai has a ground radar that would make a taxiway blink red on the screen if an aircraft too large for it enters it, or if there is conflicting traffic.)
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RE: ''Park Distance Control'' On Airliners?

Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:19 am

Interesting idea, but.....

it would probably be hampered by the effective range that it would operate over - the ones in cars start working at a couple of metres, if that. Given the speed an aircraft may be taxiing at and the size of a target (wing tip or tailplane) it would probably struggle to "see" anything in time to be effective (assuming it would use ultrasound like the car ones. Ultrasonic sensors can work to about 15 metres in a fairly narrow cone, but the repetition rate goes down with increasing distance because of the speed of sound). Beyond that you're using lasers/light and optical detectors and they have their own issues - you need to spread the beam enough in order to cover a wide enough area to get a reflection, and the more you spread a laser beam, the less strength there is in the return signal. You may, possibly, use the wing tip lights, but again, any reflected light will be negligible given the size of what may be hit (wing tip/tailplane) and the system may be confused by the light signal from other aircraft which also have wing tip lights.

There's no guarantee that it would work every time and it's something else to go wrong. And after you add up all the potential problems (including the design of something that may spend its life at temperatures ranging from -60C to +45C and withstanding everything else that an aircraft goes through) it won't end up being cheap.
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RE: ''Park Distance Control'' On Airliners?

Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:05 pm

I'll bet people will be laughing about how primitive our airport ground control is today in about 10 years. There are lots of ways to do this, but of course everything on airplanes is expensive and must be tested to exacting standards (certain batteries excepted.)

In addition to sonar and radar, I think about what a lot of computing power can do for you. For example, imagine if every transponder equipped aircraft could also broadcast it's type, latitude, longitude, and the direction it is facing every few seconds. Using ethernet-like technologies you could work out a system to prevent one signal from obscuring others.

Fixed objects (light towers, buildings, etc.) could be loaded into a database for every airport.

Simple software could then give pilots and ATC an accurate map of where everything is, and for things that are moving, an appropriate warning of what action to take (like TCAS).

The ground database is difficult to build, but not out of the price range for an airport. Most of the data to be broadcast is available on board the aircraft in its GPS. Differential GPS can get the accuracy down to a centimeter or so. Figuring out how to do the nearly continuous transmissions is a bit of a project, but doable. The receiver and computer to work out the warnings is certainly doable and not too expensive. The display can go on one of the existing cockpit displays.

I am generous and will not patent this, my gift to the world (just joking). In any case, I predict this or something like it within 10 years.

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