Green Technology Spotlight: Airport Radar That Recognizes Wind Turbines

Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that Cape Wind’s 440-foot-tall offshore wind turbines wouldn’t pose a risk to aviation navigation, this concern often prevents wind farms from being sited anywhere near airports.

It’s often difficult for air traffic control to spot an airplane in an area that has wind turbines because of the way conventional radar works.  

Aveillant, based in the UK, has developed sophisticated radar technology that can clearly distinguish between them. It can identify turbines that are up to 20 nautical miles away from the airport.

Aveillant’s 3D Holographic Radar clearly distinguishes between  wind turbines and aircraft and feeds only the aircraft positional information without the turbine clutter to the airport radar. Air traffic controllers then have a consistent and accurate view of the aircraft the entire time it is over the wind farm.

Aveillant’s 3D Holographic Radar clearly identifies moving objects that have different "behaviors" and 3D trajectories. By constantly looking in all directions at once, it continuously measures and identifies unique signals. Once air traffic controllers know where wind turbines are, they can focus on the planes that taking off and landing at the airport.

Aveillant is installing the technology at Cambridge Airport, where it will be tested extensively before a broader commercial rollout in the UK next year. The airport is about an hour away from London in the vicinity of Wadlow Wind Farm, which has 13 turbines producing 26 megawatts.

“Wind turbine clutter is a pressing issue for the aviation industry and we are pleased to play a part in addressing it through supporting Aveillant’s extremely promising technology. Whilst we are not currently affected by Wadlow Wind Farm, we may well be in the future as new wind farms are developed," says Archie Garden, Cambridge Airport Director. "Should that time come, we want to ensure that we are part of the best solution available.”

Aveillant is a spin off of Cambridge Consultants and has been working on wind farm aviation interference since 2007.

It ran successful small-scale trials of the technology in 2009 for the UK Ministry of Defense.

Here’s their website:

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