Volume 5, Number 2 March/April 1997
NEW NASA TECHNOLOGY WILL HELP MAKE the air over noncontrolled airports safer. Workers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) have developed the Optical Broadcasting Wind Indicator. The technology recently was transferred to Atlas Technology Corporation of Boca Raton, Florida, for commercial development.
|The Optical Broadcasting Wind Indicator provides a remote display of wind speed and direction more accurately and at a further distance than a windvane.|
The new self-contained wind indicator provides a remote display of wind speed and direction more accurately and at a further distance than a windvane or windsock. The device broadcasts measured wind speeds and direction information via optical flashes from a high-intensity strobe light co-located with the sensors.
Atlas Technology President Jim Gizzie said the wind indicator will decrease greatly the chance of mid-air collisions at noncontrolled airports (airports where no control tower is in operation), because pilots will not have to fly over the field's windsock to learn wind direction and speed for landing determination. Inventor Jan Zysko, a KSC aerospace engineer, said the wind indicator also would save fuel costs because pilots will not have to overfly the airport to visually acquire the windsock, then circle the airport or retrace their flight paths to enter the proper traffic patterns.
Gizzie said pilots can receive wind information as close as five miles from an airport, so they may prepare for landing sooner. This new technology eliminates the need to fly in potentially congested airspace to find an airport's windsock so the pilot may determine the wind's direction. The wind indicator also permits pilots to select the best runway to use before entering the airport's airspace.
The wind indicator also could be used for navigation; it would allow pilots earlier and more efficient pattern entry at noncontrolled airports. The wind indicator's strobe light and unique flash pattern would help pilots locate an airport more easily in reduced-visibility conditions.
The indicator signals via the interval between a single "start" flash and multiple "end" flashes, which are linearly proportional to the measured wind direction. The indicator uses a scaling factor of 30 degrees per second to allow for a convenient determination of wind direction in either degrees azimuth or compared with the standard 12-hour clock positions rounded to whole numbers. For example, a three-second time interval would correspond to winds from the three o'clock position or from 90 degrees (east). A precise measure of wind direction is possible by stopwatch timing and multiplying the measured time interval by 30. Wind speed is encoded in the number of "stop" flashes. Two end flashes would indicate that the winds are zero to 10 knots; three end flashes would indicate winds from 10 to 20 knots, four flashes would show winds from 20 to 30 knots, and so on. Most applications would not require a greater resolution of speed ranges.
Others who could benefit from the wind condition and direction information are firefighters, ski resort operators and boaters, Gizzie said. He added that the chemical industry could use the wind indicator to monitor atmospheric plumes.
For more information about the Optical Broadcasting Wind Indicator,
contact Jan Zysko at Kennedy Space Center.
Call 407/867-4925, E-mail: Jan.Zyskofirstname.lastname@example.org
Or contact Jim Gizzie at Atlas Technology.
Call 561/997-2697, E-mail: email@example.com
Please mention you read about it in Innovation.