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  • Michigan Aerospace Wins Icing Detection Contract
Aug 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 28, 2013 — The Michigan Aerospace Corp. (MAC) has received a contract to work with NASA on developing Raman-based technology that detects conditions favorable to ice formation on an airplane before a problem occurs.

The Phase I Small Business Innovation Research contract, called “RIDES: Raman Icing Detection System,” is meant to extend MAC’s current aircraft-based optical air-data system technology to enable multihazard sensing. The existing technology, which uses ultraviolet laser light to measure airspeed, direction, temperature and density, will be integrated into an ice-formation sensing device for the wings and other critical parts of an in-flight aircraft. The project, to be led by MAC President Charles Richey, will take place at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

Ice formation, or “icing,” is a critical safety issue that results in many aviation incidents; it also can prevent pilots from gaining access to information on speed. RIDES will provide an all-optical ability to detect ice conditions, and will allow pilots to make real-time decisions about flight path and activation of in-flight de-icing systems; it also will provide an air-data system. These capabilities will be accomplished through a common flush-mounted window that does not protrude into air flow and can be easily heated to prevent ice buildup.

The RIDES award succeeds two other NASA contracts won by MAC. One was to develop a sensor to measure airspeed during Mars probe descents, and the other was to create an instrument to continuously monitor and detect airborne volcanic ash in front of an aircraft. All three systems are UV-based, with the potential to be combined.

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