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Proceedings Paper

Affordable MMW aircraft collision avoidance system
Author(s): Larry D. Almsted; Robert C. Becker; Richard E. Zelenka
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Paper Abstract

Collision avoidance is of concern to all aircraft, requiring the detection and identification of hazardous terrain or obstacles in sufficient time for clearance maneuvers. The collision avoidance requirement is even more demanding for helicopters, as their unique capabilities result in extensive operations at low-altitude, near to terrain and other hazardous obstacles. TO augment the pilot's visual collision avoidance abilities, some aircraft are equipped with 'enhanced-vision' systems or terrain collision warning systems. Enhanced-vision systems are typically very large and costly systems that are not very covert and are also difficult to install in a helicopter. The display is typically raw images from infrared or radar sensors, and can require a high degree of pilot interpretation and attention. Terrain collision warning system that rely on stored terrain maps are often of low resolution and accuracy and do not represent hazards to the aircraft placed after map sampling. Such hazards could include aircraft parked on runway, man- made towers or buildings and hills. In this paper, a low cost dual-function scanning pencil-beam, millimeter-wave radar forward sensor is used to determine whether an aircraft's flight path is clear of obstructions. Due to the limited space and weight budget in helicopters, the system is a dual function system that is substituted in place of the existing radar altimeter. The system combines a 35 GHz forward looking obstacle avoidance radar and a 4.3 GHz radar altimeter. The forward looking 35 GHz 3D radar's returns are used to construct a terrain and obstruction database surrounding an aircraft, which is presented to the pilot as a synthetic perspective display. The 35 GHz forward looking radar and the associated display was evaluated in a joint NASA Honeywell flight test program in 1996. The tests were conducted on a NASA/Army test helicopter. The test program clearly demonstrated the systems potential usefulness for collision avoidance.

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 June 1997
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 3088, Enhanced and Synthetic Vision 1997, (26 June 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.277245
Show Author Affiliations
Larry D. Almsted, Honeywell Inc. (United States)
Robert C. Becker, Honeywell Inc. (United States)
Richard E. Zelenka, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3088:
Enhanced and Synthetic Vision 1997
Jacques G. Verly, Editor(s)

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