British air traffic service, Raytheon tilt at windmills


The British National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has awarded Raytheon a $6.5 million contract to find ways to reduce the effect of wind turbines on air traffic control (ATC) systems.

The company will conduct software modelling and field trial technology that minimises the effects of wind turbines on radar signals in the UK and the Netherlands.
“We are developing this much-needed technology with NATS to eliminate potential radar blackout zones near wind farms and enable the UK to continue its progress in developing safe, renewable energy resources,” said Andy Zogg, Raytheon Network Centric Systems vice president of Command and Control Systems.

“This contract award is a strong endorsement of our leap-ahead technology and will enable our customer to move forward with its greening of energy production.”

Wind farm turbines create a Doppler effect as they rotate, creating a potential radar blackout zone. The Raytheon solution uses hardware and software to detect the turbines on radar systems, which eliminates interference with radar displays.

Under the contract, Raytheon will develop and test advanced mitigation algorithms within its S-band approach and L-band en route primary surveillance radars. Raytheon will also develop and test advanced post-processing tracking algorithms, along with a full PSR modeling and simulation capability that validates enhancements and serves as a tool for rapid development of future improvements.

The research may have application in SA, where moves towards establishing commercial wind energy farms are gathering strength. One pathfinder five-mill farm is at Darling, just north of Cape Town, where it is adjacent to air traffic routes to and from Johannesburg and Kimberley.