Aircraft GPS system to prevent power line collisions

Norwegian researchers are hoping to create a satellite-based system to prevent helicopters and light aircraft from colliding with power lines and other obstacles.

A team from research organisation SINTEF and private firm NobileSoft is developing a system to calculate an aircraft’s position using GPS and use a location database of Norway’s electricity grid architecture to alert pilots if they are headed for a collision.

SINTEF says such incidents account for 10 per cent of aviation accidents in Norway each year, but a previous system developed to tackle the problem using radar equipment positioned near each obstacle was scrapped due to its high costs.

‘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,’ said SINTEF business developer Trond Bakken in a statement.

‘These data, relating to geographical position, cables and their heights, are both inaccurate and available in a variety of formats.’

The researchers have proposed a unifying system that will include details of equipment owned by the country’s national grid operator, Statnett, as well as regional and private operators.

NobileSoft have already built a prototype system in collaboration with utility company Nord-Trøndelag Elektrisitetsverk (NTE).

They hope it will provide an alternative to a previous collision avoidance system (OCAS), which has been used in several countries, that transmits warning signals to aircraft on a specific frequency, but was opposed by grid operators that would have been forced to purchase the system for every part of their equipment.