Piloting Around Power Lines

GPS Trackers Bring Aviation Safety

Engineers are constantly seeking out new ideas to help push the boundaries of technology and enhance safety. This is the reason why a team of researchers headquartered in Norway began work developing a system that utilizes GPS tracking to help helicopters and other small aircraft from hitting power lines along with other obstacles known to result in aviation disaster. Researchers from a private enterprise called NobilSoft along with assistance from organizers at SINTEF have been working together to create a solution that would calculate the exact location of an aircraft. This would be achieved using GPS tracking system technologies as well as a consistently updated database of electrical grid infrastructure throughout Norway. Therefore, when a pilot was traveling the real-time GPS tracking device would know the instant it began getting too close to any part of electrical grid architecture, alerting the pilots and crew that they could be headed toward a possible collision. According to research by SINTEF, helicopters and small aircraft colliding with power lines makeup nearly 10 percent of all aviation accidents in Norway per year. These are all accidents that could potentially be prevented with the right technology in place. Unfortunately, previous attempts of creating such a location and tracking system to resolve the problem were unsuccessful due to financial reasons. The primary challenge facing the project will be in acquiring and then distributing electrical grid locational data to create an accurate and reliable database. This is because information related to the height, position, composition of cables and more needs to be precise and organized in order for the system to be effective. The joint venture hopes to solve some of the challenges by inputing electrical grid data on both a national and regional level, as well as having private enterprises provide any data they can offer. Although only time will tell if the collaborative effort by NobilSoft and SINTEF will be successful, many in the aviation industries are watching from the sidelines to see how the entire process comes together. This is because if the Norwegian team creates such a tracking and locational network of electrical grids that same blueprint could be used among other countries around the world to reduce aviation disasters.

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