Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Airport safety: magnetic fingerprinting in the fog?

28.01.2008
By monitoring tiny fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by a passing plane, a team of European researchers has developed an innovative system to increase airport safety even in the worst weather conditions.

Using magnetic field detectors, a team of researchers, led by Uwe Hartmann and Haibin Gao of Saarland University in Germany, has developed a unique system to pinpoint the location of aircraft at airports even in places where other traffic monitoring systems face difficulties.

Their novel approach, tested at airports in Frankfurt and Saarbruecken in Germany and in Thessaloniki in Greece, relies on an array of small, cheap sensors monitoring the “magnetic fingerprint” of planes – the slight influence aircrafts’ metallic bodies have on the Earth’s magnetic field.

“Our tests have shown that the system detects all passing aircraft, 100 percent of them, and in 75 percent of cases can pinpoint their location to within 7.5 metres – a level of accuracy comparable to most existing air traffic management systems,” Gao says.

Seeing around buildings and through fog
Most importantly, the system, developed under the EU-funded Ismael project, has some unique advantages over the most common ground-based monitoring systems in use today.

Because it relies on detecting changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, the Ismael system can see through obstacles, such as buildings and the fingers of airliner parking bays – structures that create potentially dangerous areas of shadow for radar systems, particularly at large, sprawling airports.

And, unlike cameras or human air traffic controllers, it can monitor planes even in the heaviest downpour or the thickest fog.

“Thessaloniki airport has a major problem with fog, so bad in fact that it has to close for part of the year because air traffic controllers can’t see the aircraft at the end of the runway two kilometres away. In the tests, the Ismael system showed it can solve that problem,” Gao explains.

The project manager says that, in all the trials, the system lived up to the researchers’ expectations, and it has continued to prove its worth in Frankfurt where it is still operating on an experimental basis. The system has also elicited interest from other airport authorities around the world, although it is likely to be several years before it is used commercially.

“You have to use the best components, the best materials and get new equipment certified for use in an airport environment. That all makes sense from a safety point of view, but it also means that it takes seven years, on average, for a newly developed system to be installed,” Gao says.

Seeking partners and investors
The project partners – a mixture of academia and technology firms – have, therefore, approached big equipment manufacturers already supplying the airport market for assistance.

“We are looking for a partnership and investment to take this forward and, so far, there has been a fair amount of interest,” the project manager says.

Even though the certification process is likely to push up costs, Gao assures that the Ismael system will remain a cost-effective way to complement and improve existing traffic management systems at big airports, and to install a comprehensive monitoring system at small airports that may otherwise not be able to afford it.

The sensor units, which are currently about the same size as a PC graphics card, but could be as small as a coin in the future, are expected to cost several hundred euros each. Although an airport could monitor the whole length of its runways with them, possibly by installing them conveniently beneath the runway lights, only a few located at the entry and exit gates to the runways, and in other key areas, would be sufficient to boost safety.

From runways to car parks
In fact, the technology need not be confined to runways and docking bays alone.
“During the course of the project, we saw the potential to use this system in crowded airport parking lots to monitor car traffic and let drivers know where unoccupied spaces are available,” Gao says.

And because systems used in parking lots do not have to meet the same high safety and reliability standards demanded of airport systems, the Ismael technology could start being used in that context much sooner.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/id/89466

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Camera technology in vehicles: Low-latency image data compression
22.02.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

nachricht Developing reliable quantum computers
22.02.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Decoding the structure of the huntingtin protein

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Camera technology in vehicles: Low-latency image data compression

22.02.2018 | Information Technology

Minimising risks of transplants

22.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>