Innovation That Matters

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New aircraft tech designed to make takeoff safer

Work & Lifestyle

Researchers at a university in Lithuania have developed software that lets pilots know if conditions will result in a compromized takeoff.

Researchers at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) in Lithuania have developed assisstive software to aid the pilot during takeoff. Takeoff is the point at which most fatal aviation incidents occur. This, the researchers argue, is because although there are many protocols in place designed to ensure a safe takeoff (based on aircraft size and weight, runway length, wind speed and direction), the pilot currently has no way of knowing all these factors in real-time and context. If the protocols haven’t accounted for a sudden shift in conditions, requiring the pilot to make rapid, manual judgement calls, the pilot might not have all the information required to make a truly informed decision. This is especially true for civilian aircrafts, where much more of the takeoff procedure is down to pilot judgement.

The team from KTU designed a device that requires the pilot to input five additional sets of data into their takeoff calculations. This will create a ‘factual speed’ of the aircraft during takeoff. This will be compared to the known necessary speed required for successful takeoff. If the device predicts that the aircraft will not reach necessary takeoff speed before running out of runway, the pilot will be notified via an alarm. This alarm will sound while there is still enough time for the pilot to safely abort takeoff.

The device has been designed primarily with small, private aircrafts in mind. However, it should be easily scalable to the largest commercial aircraft, such as Boeing. The team are currently looking for partners to test the prototype.

While most of our aviation industry coverage centers on drone taxis and other autonomous systems, there’s still plenty of room for innovation within and around air travel. We’ve seen an app that facilitates personalized support for disabled travelers and another app that uses geolocation to simplify travel insurance. What other aspects of air travel could be ripe for innovation?



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