Churning dust responsible for most of coalition’s helicopter accidents
Raytheon is helping NATO with a study on low-visibility flying, including problems with churning dust that have caused three-quarters of the coalition's helicopter crashes in recent years.
The company's engineers have been researching how to improve visibility for pilots flying at night, through dust "brownouts" and their snow equivalents, "snowballs," especially in cluttered environments.
In response to the problem, Raytheon developed the Advanced Distributed Aperture System, which provides pilots a 360-degree view of their surroundings.
The system’s sensors capture images from across the electromagnetic spectrum and display them on the crew’s helmet-mounted displays.
“Flying with ADAS allows pilots and crew to essentially see through the aircraft in any direction," said Trevor Bushell, business development for Raytheon’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Systems.
“The spherical visibility dramatically reduces the risks commonly faced by today’s helicopter pilots and enhances situational awareness,” Bushell said.
Raytheon will join other companies working with the NATO Industrial Advisory Group on ways to protect helicopter crews.
Churning dust has caused about 75 percent of NATO helicopter mishaps in recent years, a January 2012 report by the by the NATO Research and Technology Organization said.
The U.S. Army alone had 40 brownout mishaps between 2001 and 2007, the report said.
United Kingdom forces reported 24 brownout mishaps between 2005 and 2009. France, Germany, Canada, Sweden and Norway have also reported incidents due to dust or snow.