Development testing of the Vu Systems passive millimeter-wave (PMMW) sensor has been completed, the company announced today, noting that this critical milestone in the program marks the end of “all flight testing required to validate the design of its Vu Cube sensor.” The Vu Cube PMMW sensor allows pilots to “see” through fog and clouds from much longer distances than traditional infrared sensors—up to two to three miles in low-visibility conditions.
Testing was done in an unpressurized Beechcraft King Air during more than 150 approaches in 50 flights in rain, heavy fog, and extremely low cloud ceilings. The Vu Cube is mounted in the nose of the King Air, but testing of various sensor variants was done to optimize the system for business jets and large air transport aircraft.
"Our sensor operates at a wavelength up to one thousand times longer than that of today's most advanced sensors, and this allows Vu Cube to see through clouds and fog when traditional sensors cannot,” said Vu Systems CEO Stedman Stevens. Even in dense fog where the runway was completely obscured for viewing with an infrared sensor, test pilots were able to see the runway with the Vu Cube-provided imagery.
The advantage offered by the Vu Cube is to help avoid landings at alternate airports due to poor weather at the original destination. Weather-related delays and disruptions cost the U.S. airline industry $9.2 billion a year, according to Stevens.
Vu Systems is working with aircraft and avionics manufacturers and airlines to develop Vu Cube installations. Demonstration flights with two airlines and a business jet manufacturer are planned to take place shortly, and avionics manufacturer Saab is working with Vu Systems on incorporating the Vu Cube in an enhanced flight vision system. “Now that we are confident that we have a mature product, we are freezing the design and are working toward certification of the final product,” said Vu Systems chief science officer Larry Yujiri.