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EADS Defence & Security equips NH90 helicopters with obstacle warning systems
Article Type: Safety topics and notes From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 3.
EADS Defence & Security (DS) will equip the German helicopters of the type NH90 with the military version of its HELLAS obstacle warning system. The contract covers 150 Military Obstacle Warning Systems (MilOWS) worth about e55 million.
The system was developed at an integrated Business Unit of EADS DS, for use in helicopters. HELLAS is a laser- based, electro-optical system, which detects obstacles such as power lines reliably even if the pilot has difficulties making them out during the flight. Initial flight tests of the NH90 this year have established for DS the functional capability and sensor performance of the equipment under operational conditions. The tests included flights in complex obstacle scenarios of a kind commonly encountered under military flying conditions.
“The military version of HELLAS that has been ordered MilOWS involves modification of the basic system in accordance with customer requirements in order to enhance the safety of the helicopter in military scenarios. We are already making successful use of the civilian obstacle warning system with customers such as, for instance, the German Federal Police,” said Bernd Wenzler, CEO of Defence Electronics.
The successful test flights on board the NH90 and the HELLAS demonstration helicopter have confirmed that stringent demands in terms of range and obstacle recognition have been met. During tests on the NH90 integration rig conducted over several months at Eurocopter in Ottobrunn, the functionalities of the interfaces to the NH90 system were demonstrated, also with the involvement of pilots and customers. The current version of the MilOWS worked perfectly. Thanks to these important milestones towards the final integration of the MilOWS obstacle warning system on the NH90 helicopter, the foundation has been laid for qualification on equipment level and in the NH90 system. The installation of series-produced equipment will commence from 2009.
The system scans the area in front of the helicopter with a laser beam, which is not harmful to the human eye, and detects with high precision even thin wire and metal cables at distances of more than one kilometre. With the military version of HELLAS (MilOWS) potential obstacles are classified into different categories, such as power lines, masts or single, isolated objects, and superimposed on a video or FLIR image in the form of obstacle symbols. The pilot sees this information in the visor of his flight helmet or on a display. In addition, acoustic warning signals are generated in order to ensure that attention is ensured in all flight conditions. This enables the crew to detect obstacles in good time and safely avoid them.