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New Warning System for Events that Pose a Risk to Aviation Safety

The goal of ALARM, a European R&D&I project managed by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) is to design a system that is capable of tracking and providing early warnings regarding natural events that pose a threat to aviation safety.

Image Credit: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

Besides enhancing flight safety, this system also seeks to reduce the effect of aviation on climate change.

Forest fires, volcanic eruptions, electromagnetic radiation from the electrical storms or Sun, and sandstorms come under the phenomena that might pose a threat to air traffic safety and will be studied in the framework of this project.

Serious damage can be caused to aircraft if smoke, dust or even sea salt are ingested by engines, due to both the erosion and corrosion they cause, and possible obstructions, or because they affect in-flight combustion.

Manuel Soler, Researcher and Project Coordinator, Department of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Volcanic ash and gases, such as sulphur dioxide, are also important hazards, causing abrasions to windscreens, corrosion to engines, and different damage to aircraft systems and instruments, while electromagnetic radiation from the Sun can interfere with aircraft communication systems,” added Soler.

The ALARM project involves technologists and researchers from the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Germany, who consider that the environmental effect must be treated as a further risk.

One of the ALARM project’s key ambitions is to produce overnight predictions of potential hot spots, meaning areas with high potential in terms of their combined carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and other emissions that affect climate change.

Manuel Soler, Researcher and Project Coordinator, Department of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

This warning system would create a data service that comprises crucial points and areas that aircraft should prevent to decrease the impact that flights have on global warming, which can take place, for instance, and in a highly visible way, when airplanes produce the purported contrails (the linear trail of clouds that few planes leave behind under some weather conditions).

The goal of the project is to make a prototype that can integrate an extensive range of atmospheric data gathered by satellite and terrestrial observation systems. It will integrate all of this with the help of artificial intelligence algorithms to enhance the predictions that are utilized at present.

This system will create alerts that will be shared via aeronautical communication channels, so that controllers, pilots and other players in the aeronautical sector can access this information quickly in the event of an emergency.

Project Researchers, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

The ALARM (multi-hAzard monitoring and earLy wARning) project, which will be in progress until the end of 2022, receives financial support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Program (GA 893204) and is one of many projects within the research and innovation portfolio that is controlled by SESAR Joint Undertaking.

The project has been managed by the UC3M and includes collaborators from five European countries: the Royal Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the University of Padua (Italy), and two small aeronautical companies: SYMOPT (Italy) and SATAVIA (United Kingdom).

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