Becker, Iris Unveil GA Collision Avoidance System

Credit: Becker Avionics and Iris Automation

Germany’s Becker Avionics and drone detect-and-avoid (DAA) system developer Iris Automation have entered into an agreement to jointly develop a collision avoidance system for general aviation aircraft.

The joint product development, announced on Sept. 8, will combine Becker’s AMU6500 digital audio management unit with the Iris Automation Casia X computer-vision DAA system and five optical cameras to provide pilots with audio alerts of nearby air traffic.

Casia software processes camera imagery to detect and classify intruder aircraft and determine the safest course of action to avoid collisions. The five cameras—one per wingtip and three positioned on the aircraft’s horizontal and vertical tails—provide the system with a 360-deg. field of regard and average 1,200 m (3,937 ft.) range, the companies say.

Aviation regulatory authorities require that large, passenger-carrying aircraft be equipped with traffic alert and collision avoidance systems (TCAS) that use transponders to interrogate nearby transponder-equipped aircraft and calculate their relative position based on the signals received back. In cases of potential collisions, TCAS systems alert pilots and provide recommended escape maneuvers.

Flarm, a system designed for light airplanes, helicopters and gliders, works by calculating and broadcasting an aircraft’s future flightpath and identifying information by encrypted radio channel while receiving the same information from surrounding traffic. Most Flarm systems also incorporate an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) receiver that accommodates transponder-equipped aircraft in the system’s collision avoidance calculation. More than 40,000 GA and unmanned aircraft are Flarm-equipped, according to manufacturer Flarm Technology of Switzerland.

The passive opto-electric/audio system from Iris Automation and Becker will monitor the airspace around an aircraft in visual flight conditions independently, without relying on TCAS or ADS-B signals. The companies plan to develop the system for use on both crewed and uncrewed aircraft.

“Partnering with an innovator like Iris Automation will allow our customers to exploit advanced technology to fly safer, especially as airspace congestion increases,” Becker Avionics Chairman Roland Becker said. “Client interest in this kind of solution is very high, and our ability to service both their cockpit and remote-pilot safety needs is unique in the industry.”

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.