Vigiplane Guards Against Multiple Threats To Aircraft

 - May 14, 2012, 11:50 AM
Blue Green Technology's Vigiplane security system protects parked aircraft.

Blue Green Technology is here at EBACE (Stand 1977) exhibiting its Vigiplane security system for parked aircraft. The device, which operates autonomously from the aircraft systems and does not require certification, immobilizes aircraft through a special nose wheel chock.

Vigiplane can also detect, within a given perimeter, whether any attempt has been made to get into the aircraft or interfere with it. This aspect of its performance uses infrared sensors and radars. The French company’s CEO, Frédéric Saubade, explained that it opted for both sets of detection systems because infrared sensor performance degrades in hot environments while radars do not see well in foggy conditions.

Image processing is used to detect movement, with shape analysis applied to avoid false alarms. Data is relayed from the unit to a server via a wireless connection, 3G mobile phone network or Iridium satellite telephone.

The server can be located at either the customer’s base or at Blue Green Technology’s facilities. In the latter case, the customer can access the photos via a web browser. However, before the aircraft’s crew or airport security is called, human eyes take a look at the detected event.

Such events could include a ground collision with another aircraft or with an airport vehicle, the theft of aircraft parts or fuel, or vandalism. Saubade also referred to smugglers who use other people’s aircraft to carry drugs or prohibited goods from one country to another, hiding the contraband inside the hold. Terrorism is a concern, too, for some customers. Security issues mostly happen in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Asia and Russia, according to Saubade.

Vigiplane even provides weather information as a bonus feature, he said. Via three additional sensors, it can warn of an on-coming tropical storm and can also sense possible aircraft movement due to wind gusts.

It took four years and approximately $1.3 million to develop Vigiplane, Saubade told AIN. The device was introduced at the MEBA show in Dubai in late 2010 and the company has delivered nearly a dozen units so far.

Vigiplane is now being offered at a reduced price of less than $50,000. “One of our priorities this year is to introduce the Vigiplane on the U.S. market,” Saubade added.

The system can be installed in two minutes, according to Bordeaux-based Blue Green Technology, and has enough power to operate autonomously for seven days. The system can be used for aircraft measuring between 45 and 250 feet long. For example, the French government is using Vigiplane to protect its Airbus A330.

All the equipment can be carried, in a pair of suitcases, in an unpressurized cargo hold. As the cases are relatively bulky and weigh more than 60 pounds, operators of light business aircraft may find them difficult to take on board. Saubade is hoping to develop a smaller version that could also be used on helicopters.