Friday, May 13, 2016

Radar May Let Helo Pilots ‘See’ Through Brownouts

The Pentagon’s research arm and aerospace industry partners have developed promising technology to enable rotorcraft pilots to see through brownouts caused by their own downwash, such as the fatal crash of an MV-22B Marine Osprey last spring.
“That’s exactly what this is for — a self-generated brownout. It truly sees through the dust” and debris thrown up by the rotors of a helicopter or the “proprotors” of the Osprey in landings and takeoffs, said David C. Baughman, a program manager with Honeywell Aerospace.
Honeywell has worked on the “synthetic vision” cockpit displays, or Synthetic Vision Avionics Backbone, while Northrop Grumman Corp. has developed the millimeter wave radar to punch through the dustclouds and show obstacles and inclinations of the landing zones.
The SVAB was meant to “provide full terrain awareness of ingress and egress routes” in the cockpit while the millimeter wave radar had the capability of “turning sensor data into pilot awareness,” according to the industry literature.
With the combination of the two, “You’re not looking for a hole in the cloud, you’re seeing through the cloud,” Baughman said. “You can see features you could not see” with the existing radar and cockpit displays, said H. Bruce Wallace, a program manager with the Strategic Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  more