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Doppler lidar installed at German hub airports

30 Aug 2013

Europe’s first combined radar and lidar systems can detect wind shear in all weather conditions.

The German Weather Service (DWD) has installed Lockheed Martin’s “WindTracer” Doppler lidar system at the two busiest airports in the country.

Both Frankfurt and Munich now host the technology, which forms part of what is known as the Low Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS). Selex Systems Integration provided the LLWAS, which includes both the WindTracer lidar and a separate weather radar.

The lidar tool is designed to provide air traffic controllers and pilots with concise information on wind shear, strong gusts typically caused by stormy weather that can hit aircraft during take-off or landing.

IR pulses
It transmits and detects eye-safe infrared laser pulses (1.6 µm wavelength) that are scattered by atmospheric aerosol particles. Any wind moves those aerosols, altering the frequency of the back-scattered light. The return signals are processed automatically to provide wind speed and direction data.

The system has previously been installed at hubs including New York’s JFK, Atlanta Hartsfield and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and was first deployed back in 2002. It was already used at Frankfurt airport to monitor wake vortices, the air turbulence generated on take-off that can impact smaller aircraft.

Lockheed says that by using WindTracer in Munich and Frankfurt, Selex has developed Europe’s first radar and lidar operational integration for wind shear detection in all weather conditions.

Frankfurt is the third busiest airport in Europe, and according to Airports Council International it handled 57.5 million passengers in 2012. Munich is the seventh busiest, with more than 38 million passengers last year.

“WindTracer represents an affordable wind shear detection system for customers around the globe. Combined with weather radar, the system gives the airport a comprehensive picture of wind hazards,” said Michael Margulis, director of WindTracer Programs at Lockheed. “As a result, the highest detection rate for wind hazards, in both dry and wet environments, is achieved.”

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