Dubai Air Show

Lockheed Martin installs wake turbulence sensors at DXB

 - November 19, 2013, 3:50 AM

Lockheed Martin (Stand 1975) is installing its WindTracer windshear and turbulence-detection system at Dubai International Airport (DXB), where it will be used to detect aircraft wake vortices, thus allowing for increased runway utilization. Two WindTracers have been installed this year and a third one is to follow in the first quarter of next year, Michael Margulis, WindTracer program director, told AIN. WindTracer is a long-range, 3-D-scanning pulsed doppler lidar-based system.

The idea at DXB is to build a realistic model of the turbulence caused by large aircraft, rather than having a gross estimate and applying large safety margins. Such conservative separation distances between aircraft cause a loss of capacity at the airport. The WindTracers at DXB will be used for statistical data collection, and the resulting database will be used to change air traffic control (ATC) flight rules, Margulis said.

DXB controllers are thus hoping the WindTracers will help them better advise pilots during the peak flying period, between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. This should avoid the use of too-conservative separation distances or wait times on the ground. “Our system can improve airport efficiency by 15 to 50 percent,” Margulis asserted.

The database is expected to be exhaustive because WindTracer works both in humid and dry air. Most turbulence-detection systems are useful in humid air only. Even in wet climates such as in Honk Kong, where the first WindTracer started operating in 2002, this additional capability has proved valuable, Margulis said.

WindTracer was originally designed for detecting windshear, microbursts, down drafts and other hazardous air phenomena. It is already used for this at many airports, said Lockheed Martin.