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New technology helps pilots see through fog

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GUERNSEY airline Aurigny is trialling new technology which allows pilots to see through fog and could cut weather-related delays by up to 50 per cent.

Captain Eric Delesalle with the new infra-red camera head set that allows pilots to ‘see through the fog’

An ATR aircraft fitted with ClearVision technology arrived in the island last week – on the same day that numerous other flights were cancelled due to poor visibility.

The airline is now planning to make a business case to its shareholders – the States of Guernsey – to replace its existing three ATRs with new aircraft equipped with the kit. The in-cockpit part of the tech is a SkyLens headset worn by the pilot. It provides an augmented reality view, and, while in one eye the pilot sees the real world, in the other it is the view from the infra-red cameras mounted on the aircraft’s nose and which see through the fog.

Aurigny’s flight operations director Nigel Moll was one of the staff who had a chance to fly in the plane – but was disappointed that the fog cleared just as the trials began.

‘After three days when we were hoping it would lift all the time, we were rather hoping it would be here,’ he said.

But despite not being able to see the equipment at work first-hand in fog, he was in no doubt what its introduction would mean to Guernsey.

‘It’s a game changer. On a foggy day you might fly down to 200 ft above the runway and not see it. With this, you can see it,’ he said.

The prototype aircraft that visited the island is based on the newest model of ATR, which has a different cockpit set-up to the nine-year-old aircraft currently being flown by the airline.

Once tests are completed, it is anticipated that the new ClearVision-equipped ATRs will go into production at the end of next summer.

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‘Subject to the business case with the States we would like to be the first, if not one of the first, customers, for this system.

‘It’s ideally suited to an airport like Guernsey,’ said Mr Moll.

He added that the makers of the airline’s Embraer jet are also looking into similar technology.

Richard Heath

By Richard Heath
author

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