Helo obstacle detector STC'd

 - October 12, 2007, 6:10 AM

Quebec-based avionics manufacturer Amphitech International last month received limited Canadian STC approval to install its OASys wire- and obstacle-detection radar aboard a Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil. The helicopter, operated by Heli-Express, was to embark on an eastern U.S. sales tour late last month, traveling through Louisiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., New York and Toronto before returning to its home base in Montreal.

Unlike other power-line-detection systems that use magnetic-field or thermal-sensing techniques, the OASys (obstacle-awareness system) radar can detect and display any radar-reflective obstacle through smoke, fog or precipitation. Radiating at 35 GHz with short pulse width and high pulse repetition rate, OASys has demonstrated the ability to detect wires as small as an inch in diameter a mile ahead. Optimized for short range and high target resolution, the radar detects objects as close as 15 feet and as distant as 5,000 feet.

On the pad before takeoff OASys restricts its view to a shorter range. After takeoff, when groundspeed increases, the radar expands its look-ahead range to search for towers, hills or wires that may be in the helicopter’s flight path. On landing, the radar again reins in its range so as not to provide nuisance warnings. Alerts are provided to the pilot through color-coded annunciator lights and aural tones that provide the general location of the hazardous terrain or obstruction.

Amphitech has also gained limited STC authorization in Canada for use of the system aboard the Bell 212. Quebec operator Canadian Helicopters has purchased the first system and will fly with OASys on a 212 operating from Labrador. Amphitech plans soon to add a 3-D simulation of OASys on its Web site (www.amphitech.com).