BAE unveiling helo 'brownout' solution

Sept. 9, 2011 at 7:22 AM
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LONDON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- A system to help helicopter pilots see in degraded visual environments is being showcased in England next week by BAE-UK.

BLAST -- Brownout Landing Aid System Technology -- was developed by BAE Systems-UK using off-the-shelf technology from fielded systems.

Helicopter brownout occurs when a pilot loses visual references due to dust or sand re-circulating during takeoff or landing -- a major problem in arid terrains.

BAE said it tested BLAST during a two-week campaign in April at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. Fitted on a Bell UH-1 test-bed helicopter, the system demonstrated effective real-time 3-D visual landing zone representation with overlaid flight symbology information to a pilot in DVE conditions.

The flight symbology provides all relevant flight critical information, allowing the pilot to easily judge the height, speed and drift of the aircraft.

"The system combines proven millimeter wave technology with advanced situational awareness capabilities and provides safe-flight capabilities for frontline helicopter crews in diminished visibility conditions such as brownouts, whiteouts, darkness and adverse weather, helping the pilot achieve mission success," said Paul Cooke, business development director of defense avionics for BAE Systems.

BLAST is at a technology readiness level 6 as a prototype DVE system demonstrated in a relevant environment. The system's light weight, flexible architecture and ruggedized features allow it to be installed on both new and legacy helicopter models.

The system is being displayed at the Defense and Security Equipment International exhibition next week in London.

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