Lonely Planet Writer

TV signals could replace radar to track aircraft in future

TV signals could provide a cheaper alternative to radar in the tracking of aircraft, according to new research in Britain.

TV signals could down the line replace radar in tracking aircraft
TV signals could down the line replace radar in tracking aircraft Image by Richard Elzey / CC BY 2.0

Nats, the air traffic control provider has carried out experiments which suggests that television signals would be a more economic way to function in the future.

Both systems bounce off solid object yet operate from different areas of the radio spectrum.

In conducting the research using special receivers, scientist tracked up to 30 aircraft at heights of up to 10,000ft.

And while these results were encouraging,  BBC news reported that experts admitted that further research needs to be carried out.

Nick Young, Nats engineer pointed out that while service and resilience standards needed to be thoroughly examined, the discovery was anexciting one. It was a concept that could be further developed over the coming five years, he added.

The study in Crystal Palace, London, used three specialists receivers in measuring signal direction bouncing off aircraft. Further trials in Liverpool pointed to the fact that systems based on television signals suffered less interference from wind turbines than normal radar receivers.

Mr Young said that the use of TV signals instead of radar, which is big and expensive, could reduce cost while freeing up valuable radio spectrum for other uses. The increased processing power of computers has made this study easier but there were still a series of hurdles to be overcome before it could become a serious consideration for operational usage.