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Boeing, JAXA to flight-test LIDAR technology
FedEx Boeing 777 Freighter. © Boeing

Boeing, JAXA to flight-test LIDAR technology

Boeing and JAXA will test LIDAR technology as part of next year’s ecoDemonstrator programme using a FedEx 777 Freighter

Boeing and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) say they plan to flight-test Long-range Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology in 2018 in the next phase of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme. The technology could help commercial aircraft pilots better detect and avoid weather disturbances to improve flight safety.

Boeing and JAXA have been collaborating on the integration of LIDAR technology into a commercial aircraft platform since 2010. The JAXA LIDAR technology offers the potential to accurately measure winds up to 17.5km ahead, providing pilots with sufficient time to take appropriate action to avoid wind shear and clear air turbulence, which does not have any visual cues such as clouds.

This next phase of the JAXA-Boeing LIDAR research collaboration is possible thanks to Boeing's ecoDemonstrator flight-test research programme. In 2018, Boeing and FedEx Express will work together for six weeks to flight-test more than 30 technologies, including LIDAR, aboard a new FedEx-owned 777 Freighter.

The flight demonstration of LIDAR technology will involve emitting pulses of laser light, which will scatter off small dust and other particulates. Observing the reflected light in segments from the start, the pulse provides measurement of the wind speed at increments all along the direction of the laser. 

JAXA explains that the onboard clear-air turbulence detection system to be tested next year was established as part of its SafeAvio R&D project on avionics safety technology to prevent turbulence-induced aircraft accidents.

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