NBAA Convention News

'Whiskers' helps avoid bent wings

 - June 20, 2008, 4:52 AM

With the number of wing-collision incidents growing, so has demand for a device to assist pilots in avoiding them. As a result, Securaplane Technologies is developing a wing collision avoidance system (WCAS) for bizjets.

During taxi, the WCAS low-power radar sensors (one on each side of the nose) constantly monitor the space in front of the wings, using a range-gated beam reaching out from the radome like a cat’s whiskers, hence the system’s in-house nickname, “Whiskers.” The radar will detect any object in its field of view larger than two inches in diameter.

Range can be set to accommodate for wing lengths of various aircraft, from light jets to the BBJ. A spokesman for the company said the system was specifically designed, however, for large swept-wing aircraft such as the Global Express and Gulfstream V, in which the crew cannot see the wingtips from the cockpit.

The cockpit interface gives the crew three aural warnings and a continuously blinking light as soon as an object is detected by the radar. The aural voice warning also indicates which wing is in danger of collision. There is also a five-minute timeout feature that automatically turns off the system to prevent unwanted alerts. The weight of the control unit is 3.5 lb and the two sensors weigh 1.5 lb each.

WCAS was introduced at the Aircraft Electronics Association show in April. A spokesperson for Securaplane said the company has yet to begin taking orders, but a fully developed unit is expected by April next year, and “we hope to begin deliveries by the third-quarter.” WCAS uninstalled is tentatively priced at $28,000.