Traffic and Environment

Aircraft Wake Vortices

As an unavoidable consequence of lift a pair of counter-rotating vortices forms behind the wings. This long-lived vortex pair constitutes a potential risk to following aircraft. The proper prediction of wake vortex drift, descent, and decay and the resulting minimum separations between consecutive aircraft is vital for an effective, resource-efficient, and safe planning and guidance of air traffic.

The DLR project 'Land-Based and Onboard Wake Systems' (L-bows) aims at the ground-based prediction of optimized aircraft separations and the airborne avoidance of hazardous encounters in all phases of flight on tactical and pre-tactical time horizons. For this purpose innovative methods are developed that will enhance the efficiency of the prediction systems. The conducted activities meet the RECAT initiative of ICAO, FAA and EUROCONTROL to update wake turbulence separation minima, the expected capacity shortages of major European airports, the reduction of vertical separations during cruise, the growing diversification of aircraft types from Very Light Jets up to Super Heavy Aircraft as well as the liberalization of the airspace targeted by SESAR and NextGen.

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