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Thanks to the European Space Agency (ESA), airports now can use satellites to identify and manage obstacles that could pose a risk to flight safety. Of the 48,000 airports worldwide, only about a quarter allow aircraft to land in poor weather, and only 500 airports have a specialist onsite to pinpoint obstacles that might exceed height restrictions within flight paths.

*The obstacle-management service from Ascend XYZ helps airports comply with airside safety regulations. Using the height of the obstacle, Ascend software can quickly calculate whether the object is penetrating a restricted zone. (Credit: Ascend XYZ)

 

With ESA’s help, Ascend XYZ in Denmark developed a service—using satellites and aircraft combined with web-based software—for airports to record potential obstacles.

“Free data from the latest Copernicus Sentinel satellites make this affordable for airports,” said Peter Hemmingsen, CEO at Ascend.

The service helps airports comply with airside safety regulations. Using existing airport data, it calculates the restricted aerial zones around the airport.

“Until now, airports used maps and a team of specialists to do these calculations, but our service does this for them and outputs the correct documentation for airport authorities,” added Hemmingsen.

The software is designed for use by non-specialists who can easily register and monitor obstacles penetrating restricted zones. Sometimes a temporary obstacle, such as a crane, is erected close to the airport. This can be registered in the Ascend software, including detailed measurements supplied by the building company.

“Using the height of the obstacle, the software can quickly calculate whether the object is a potential problem,” noted Hemmingsen. “No maps and no specialists are required. This is simple, efficient and avoids human error.”

Satnav data from Ascend guides field personnel to the obstacle, and additional information can be entered offsite via the cloud- and browser-based management system.

“Through ESA, Ascend XYZ shows that using space data can improve our daily life in many different areas—in this case, it is airport safety,” said ESAs Arnaud Runge.

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