Developed and produced by Lockheed Martin, WindTracer® light detection and ranging (LIDAR) is a remarkable wind and aerosol measurement technology used worldwide to improve aviation safety and efficiency, aid in defense and security operations, measure wind resources, and perform meteorological research.
For aviation safety and efficiency, WindTracers have been applied in life-critical operations for over a decade to provide warning of hazardous winds in real-time for millions of flights worldwide, and measure aircraft wakes for hundreds of thousands of flights in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
WindTracer was first deployed at Hong Kong International Airport in 2002, and now successfully operates at airports serving Bangkok, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Munich, New York City, Osaka, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo. WindTracer continues to be the LIDAR sensor of choice for numerous airport weather upgrade programs.
WindTracer® for Airports
WindTracer® provides reliable alerting of wind hazards to air traffic controllers in real-time, enabling pilots to make informed decisions concerning flight safety. Sudden changes in wind – causing aircraft to unexpectedly gain or lose significant altitude – pose a serious threat to aircraft in flight. Wind shear, microbursts, gust fronts, and turbulence are atmospheric conditions that can compromise the safety of aircraft, especially during takeoff and landing. Even in clear, dry weather, drastic wind change can surprise and challenge the most capable pilots. By providing real-time alerts, WindTracer helps pilots to avoid flying into hazardous wind conditions.
WindTracer also measures turbulence resulting from the wakes generated by aircraft in flight. Wakes are produced by all aircraft during flight – the larger the aircraft, the stronger the wake – and wakes from a leading aircraft can jeopardize the safety of trailing aircraft. To mitigate this danger, aviation safety organizations have mandated flight rules that specify safe separation distances between leading and trailing aircraft.
WindTracer measures winds behind aircraft to provide information on the strength and behavior of wakes. By applying wake information measured by WindTracer for hundreds of thousands of aircraft arrival and departure events, aviation safety organizations worldwide have determined the minimum safe separations for aircraft departing and arriving at airports. These organizations have based flight rules on the minimum safe separations, thereby reducing aircraft delays and increasing the throughput of incoming and outgoing aircraft at many airports by up to 30 percent while maintaining safe flight operations.