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Development of an innovative acoustic system for the improvement of co-operative air traffic management

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Listening for air traffic

The world's airports and skies are becoming more crowded due an increase in the number of commercial and private aircraft. Accidents can be avoided and lives saved as a result of improved acoustic systems for preventing collisions.

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Passengers can look forward to a new era in air transport safety thanks to the work of the EU-funded Safe-Airport project. New acoustic systems can help reduce the risks presented by human error and bad weather by pinpointing the location and course of an aircraft or vehicle on the ground. Airports can then work at full capacity even during periods of bad visibility. The new development can also make up for deficiencies in the current system, which uses ground radar and cameras to detect aircraft. The consortium developed an innovative acoustic system for tracking aircraft from their engine and aerodynamic noise, both in the sky and on the ground. Two passive phased array microphone antennas are used to locate aircraft from a distance of up to five nautical miles. The antennas are linked by a fibre optic with a control console and operator situated in the airport building. The system is completely integrated with the airport's air traffic management procedures and may be used autonomously for small airports or incorporated with the control systems of larger facilities. A major advantage of the new system is that it does not generate any electromagnetic radiation, unlike radar, or noise. In the future civil aircraft with non-metallic composite bodies will be widely used however they can be successfully detected by the new technology. The new innovative system is cost-effective and can be afforded by small airports, thereby enabling them to increase capacity in a sector that continues to grow. The safety factor is also increased by preventing runway incursions, also saving airlines and airport operators money in lost time and efficiency.

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