Aveillant’s 3-D Radar Distinguishes between Wind Turbines and Aircraft

 - April 5, 2012, 2:40 AM

Aveillant, a spin-off company from France-based technology engineering specialist Altran, is developing a new radar designed to distinguish between aircraft and the rotating blades of wind turbines, eliminating the potential confusion wind farms could cause in ATC and allowing wind farms to be built closer to airports.

On today’s ATC displays, a wind turbine appears exactly as an aircraft. ATC radar does not know the height of an object, unless it has a transponder. Since not all aircraft have transponders, it is important that primary radar continues to operate in wind farm areas, Craig Webster, Aveillant business development director, explained. Aveillant’s radar can locate “non-cooperative objects” (aircraft without a transponder) amidst clutter such as wind farms.

“We have a short-range, three-dimensional system that is designed to sit in the vicinity of clutter,” Webster said. It provides hemispherical coverage, unlike conventional scanning radars. Aveillant’s radar “can measure clear differences between aircraft and wind turbines,” Webster said.

“The development of Aveillant’s technical solution is an important step for the development of clean energy production around the world,” said Philippe Salle, chairman and CEO of the Altran group. For example, a system that eliminates the potential confusion wind farms could cause in ATC would solve an important problem in the UK, where concerns about the problem are delaying 66 percent of all wind-farm applications in the country, according to the company. Aveillant is now talking to both the wind farm and air transport industries to determine who will be among the first customers.

The firm is promising its radar–for which it will supply both the hardware and software–will be “cost effective even for smaller wind farms.” Qualification trials are slated to start next year.