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New integrated systems for flight safety

Worldwide air traffic is expected to increase threefold in the next 20 years, a challenge for the maintenance of the good safety record in aviation. A European project, Flysafe, has investigated the most common type of aviation accidents to develop new integrated systems.

Industrial Technologies

As the first step towards achieving the safety goals set in ‘Vision 2020’ produced by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE), Flysafe identified three main categories of aviation accidents. Loss of control, controlled flight into terrain and accidents while landing were identified as the primary reasons for accidents. New systems and functions were developed to help cabin crew and systems avoid the accidents. These included improved situation awareness, advance warning, alert prioritisation and enhanced human-machine interfaces. As inclement weather conditions are key to accident avoidance, Flysafe also developed a system for timely and accurate weather information. The 'Weather information management systems' (WIMS) collects, formats and sends to the aircraft full details of essential atmospheric data. WIMS presents the information in an innovative way, to provide warnings optimised in relation to the simultaneous restrictions of safety and airspace capacity. Flysafe scientists also developed a complete 'Next generation integrated surveillance system' (NGISS). Functions include identification of strategic risks related to weather, traffic and terrain along the flight path of the aircraft. Systems were also developed to help the crew handle all alerts such as wind shear where an immediate response is required. Furthermore, an intelligent crew support that monitors flight phase, and crew actions was also produced to avoid mistakes being made, for example, in times of staff exhaustion. The complete system was validated using both ground and onboard components, simulated and real flight tests, and a representative group of pilots. Safety gains that could be obtained were evaluated for future marketable systems. Flysafe deliverables promise to be significant assets to the air transport sector. The WIMS offers weather information to other stakeholders including airport operators and airlines. Most importantly perhaps, NGISS stands to contribute to the ACARE goal – to reduce the accident rate by 80 % within 20 years.

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