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Britain commissions study for passive radar use in air traffic mangement

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority has commissioned Airbus Defense and Space to research the use of its passive radar system, originally designed for the military, for use in civil air traffic management.

By Richard Tomkins
Britain commissions study for passive radar use in air traffic mangement
A passive radar that mitigates signal interference from wind turbines near airports is being studied by Airbus Defense and Space. (photo: Andol)

UNTERSCHLEISSHEIM, Germany, May 13 (UPI) -- Airbus Defense and Space is to explore the feasibility of using a radar technology originally developed for the military in civil aviation.

The technology is passive radar, which the company started developing in 2006.

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"Conventional radar uses a rotating antenna to sweep the sky, actively sending out radio pulses and detecting those which are reflected back from aircraft," the company said. "Airbus Defense and Space has developed a so-called 'passive radar' system that doesn't emit any radiation, but instead analyses radiation reflections from other emitters, such as radio and television stations, to detect objects."

Passive radar measures the differences between the original broadcast signal and the signals reflected from aircraft to determine the plane's position.

"The difference is that a passive radar system that relies on signals already in the air avoids creating additional emissions in populated areas, releases bandwidth for other uses and addresses the problem of misleading echoes from wind farms," Airbus said.

The study was commissioned by Britain's Civil Aviation Authority. The monetary value of the contract, however, was not disclosed.

A working passive radar system by the company has already shown a capability to detect aircraft from a distance of 124 miles. In 2011, Airbus Defense and Space announced the development of a software and hardware radar modification to lesson signal interference from wind turbines.

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