UTC Aerospace Systems signs MoU to develop Ophir’s laser air data system


United Technologies unit UTC Aerospace Systems has signed a memorandum of agreement with Ophir Corporation to develop and commercialise the latter's laser air data system.

The firms will collaborate in terms of technology and product development for entry into commercial service in five years.

The laser air data  system will make use of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensing techniques to measure several parameters on air data such as temperature, velocity, angle of side slip and altitude, unlike the current pitot probe air data sensors, which monitor air pneumatically using pressurised air or gas.

Further, laser air data systems are not impacted by icing and aerodynamic drag. They also free up power, which can be used elsewhere on the aircraft.

Laser air data systems can operate in almost any environment and even operate down to zero velocity and at all angles of attack and sideslip. This in turn expands the scope of information available to the flight control system.

"We believe that this sensor potentially increases aviation flight safety, measurement availability and reliability by providing a redundant air data measurement in all weather conditions."

As part of an intelligent air data architecture, it is expected that laser air data systems will be used with air data sensors of UTC Aerospace Systems.

This will not only complement but also strengthen aircraft's overall air data collection ability, thereby bolstering flight safety, aircraft efficiency and autonomous control.

Ophir has flight-tested prototypes and the performance potential of the technology has been demonstrated.

UTC Aerospace Systems and Ophir are collaborating in the design of a new prototype to boost performance for future flight-testing with customers.

Ophir president Martin O'Brien said: "Ophir Corporation has been developing, manufacturing and servicing laser radar avionics systems for over 30 years.

"We believe that this sensor potentially increases aviation flight safety, measurement availability and reliability by providing a redundant air data measurement in all weather conditions."

UTC Aerospace Systems sensors and integrated systems president Justin Keppy said: "UTC Aerospace Systems has been at the forefront of air data technology since it was first introduced at the outset of the Jet Age, and we're proud to continue that tradition by collaborating with Ophir on laser air data sensors, which we believe represent the next frontier in air data collection.

"By helping aircraft measure data more effectively under more conditions, laser air data sensors will allow pilots to make more informed in-flight decisions, thus enhancing flight safety and efficiency."

Ophir develops, manufactures and services laser radar avionics for military and commercial customers, while UTC Aerospace Systems supplies technologically advanced aerospace and defence products.