NBAA Convention News

Securaplane Cameras Improve Pilot Situational Awareness

 - October 22, 2013, 3:30 AM

Securaplane, part of the Meggitt family, is displaying its current line of airborne cameras and integrated ground security systems, along with prototypes of improved products at its NBAA booth (No. N4527).

Securaplane’s wireless-controlled cameras are easily retrofitable, according to Steffen Spell, vice president of sales, marketing and customer service for the Tucson, Ariz.-based company. In fact, the cameras still need wiring for power but they can tap into power wires already installed for wingtip and empennage lights, for example.

On the wingtips, fuselage or vertical fin, the cameras offer pilots better situational awareness on the ground, and this can help avoid a collision when taxiing. In flight, cameras can help pilots verify a system’s status, for example, visually confirming that the landing gear is deployed or viewing critical flight controls, engine and exhaust areas. Securaplane also builds airborne cameras for inside the aircraft, but monitoring a cockpit door or a cabin is more common on airliners than business jets.

“In addition, our cameras can be integrated with our on-board aircraft security system to allow for video recording should someone attempt an intrusion on the aircraft while it is parked and unattended,” Spell said. A basic camera costs $3,000 but a fully integrated system, with camera control on the flight deck’s main displays, can cost $75,000.

For security on the ground, Securaplane is currently developing its next-generation system, which will include a more user-friendly interface, the ability to stream images on any smartphone, wireless switch technology and a reduction in weight, according to Spell. All sensors that are currently installed on an aircraft are hard-wired to the controller. The new technology will allow the signal from the sensor to be transmitted wirelessly, which saves weight, enhances reliability and makes installation easier.

In case of a proximity breach or an intrusion, the current PreFlite product warns the pilot (or any designated person) via an automated call and a text message. “It is providing real-time alerts, interrogation and monitoring from any telephone,” Spell explained. Securaplane also still sells older-generation equipment, which uses a handheld UHF radio.

Securaplane’s PreFlite is integrated with the aircraft and therefore needs certification (either as part of the type certificate when delivered new or as a supplemental type certificate). Integrated also means, Spell said, “you don’t have to leave something on the ground, which could be stolen and increases crew workload.” The system works on its own autonomous power.

PreFlite employs three kinds of sensors: passive infrared, range-controlled radar and micro reed. Range-controlled radar and passive infrared sensors provide proximity detection. The former uses micro-power impulse radar to detect moving objects within a predetermined area, and it can be adjusted to set a specific range. Both passive infrared and range-controlled radar sensors are used in areas such as wheel wells. Therefore, a proximity breach around the aircraft–such as someone trying to steal a part–can be detected. PreFlite can also detect intrusion thanks to the micro reeds on the doors and the access panels.

PreFlite prices range from $35,000 for a basic system to $140,000 for integration with the aforementioned cameras. Weight is between 50 and 65 pounds.