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No obstacles for airports using satellites

Posted March 14, 2017

Thanks to ESA, airports can now use satellites to identify and manage obstacles that could pose a risk to flight safety.

Of the 48 000 airports around the globe, only about a quarter can allow aircraft to land in poor weather and only 500 airports have a specialist on site to pinpoint obstacles that might exceed height restrictions within flight paths.

Ascend – Obstacle management solution

Airport restrictions

With ESA’s help, Ascend XYZ in Denmark has developed a service for airports to record potential obstacles.

The service uses satellites and aircraft combined with smart web-based software.

“Free data from the latest Copernicus Sentinel satellites make this affordable for airports,” commented Peter Hemmingsen, CEO at Ascend.

The service helps airports to comply with airside safety regulations. Using existing airport data, it calculates the restricted aerial zones around the airport.

“Until now, airports have used maps and a team of specialists to do these calculations but our service does this for them and outputs the correct documentation for airport authorities,” Peter added.

Tall trees encroaching into a restricted zone

The software is designed for use by non-specialists who can easily register and monitor obstacles penetrating restricted zones.

Sometimes a temporary obstacle, such as a crane, is erected close to the airport. This can also be registered in the Ascend software including detailed measurements supplied by the building company.

“Using the height of the obstacle, the Ascend software can quickly calculate whether the object is a potential problem. No maps and no specialists are required. This is simple, efficient and avoids human error.”

Satnav data from Ascend guides field personnel to the obstacle and additional information can be entered offsite via the cloud- and browser-based management system.

Registering an obstacle

“Through ESA, Ascend XYZ shows that using space data can improve our daily life in many different areas – in this case, it is airport safety,” notes the Agency’s Arnaud Runge.

Source: ESA



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