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Airport Safety AidAn airplane generates a wake like that of a ship, except that the airplane's wake is invisible. The plane's movement through the air creates-at each wing tip-a "vortex," a turbulent wind moving in a circular pattern like an air whirlpool. Large aircraft, such as commercial jetliners, produce powerful vortices which can be hazardous to small planes following closely be hind. For that reason, the Federal Aviation Administration requires a five mile spacing between large and small aircraft approaching a runway, to allow time for the vortices to dissipate. At busy terminals, this spacing requirement restricts landing operations and contributes to airport congestion. With an eye toward reducing the spacing requirement while assuring lightplane safety, the Department of Transportation is conducting research on the characteristics of aircraft wake. The spinoff system pictured, atop the checkerboard van in the lower photo and in close-up at upper right, is producing valuable information which will enable airport controllers to determine when it is safe for a lightplane to land. Developed by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Sunnyvale, California, it is called a Laser Doppler Velocimeter, or LDV.
Document ID
Document Type
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1979
Publication Information
Publication: Spinoff 1979
Subject Category
Technology Utilization and Surface Transportation
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20070019711Analytic PrimarySpinoff 1979