News Item

New system to avoid wire strikes

The proposal should ensure that helicopters and light aircraft do not collide with power lines and other obstacles.

Collisions between light aircraft/helicopters and high voltage cables, wind turbines, high-rise buildings, oil platforms and telephony masts are all too frequent. Collisions with overhead power lines alone account for 10% of aviation accidents in Norway.

To date, warnings that pilots receive as they approach hazardous obstacles have been statutory markers or lights. But pilots say that these are unsatisfactory - and many accidents involve collisions with obstacles not covered by such regulations.

This Obstacle Warning GPS System (OWGS) satellite-based system aims to ensure that helicopters and light aircraft are prevented from colliding with such obstacles.

The founder of a small company, NobileSoft - a helicopter pilot - had put together the company's first prototype as early as in 2009, in collaboration with the utility company NTE. He has now joined forces with SINTEF and other partners such as Statnett and Energy Norway.

The founder explains that the aim of his company now is to develop a commercial version of the new system. And, with technical and research-related challenges ahead, a public-sector R&D contract has been entered into with Innovation Norway.

The SINTEF Business Developer explains: 'Technological and market developments have combined to resolve many of the challenges linked to the project, and we can now focus on the core issue of data quality. The challenge lies in the acquisition, quality assurance and distribution of all the data now in the possession of the various grid owners distributed across Norway.'

He adds: 'These data, relating to geographical position, cables and their heights, are both inaccurate and available in a variety of formats. In fact, there are several thousand cables and grids scattered around the country.'

OWGS represents an alternative technology to the earlier 'Obstacle Collision Avoidance System' (OCAS), which has been used in many locations globally. OCAS is based on a mast equipped with radar technology, located close to an obstacle, which turns on lights and transmits a warning radio signal to the pilot.

But, in Norway, OCAS got the thumbs down following a proposal for new statutory regulations put forward by their Civil Aviation Authority in 2009 - owners of overhead power grids would have been compelled to purchase the system, and this triggered a mass of protests due to its high cost.

The OWGS founder explains: 'There is great interest in this project from overseas, and now that we have research expertise and experience backing it up, it would be very interesting to establish a multinational consortium to promote the system in the global market.'

Details from SINTEF below . .

  • 07 January 2014
  • RIN

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