For Release: March 19, 1997
RELEASE NO. 97-018
MEDIA INVITED TO SEE NASA LASER RESEARCH AT NORFOLK
NASA Langley Research Center has deployed a laser-radar system
near Norfolk International Airport to study planes landing as part
of a national effort to improve airport productivity.
The system will be demonstrated, and interviews will be
possible, from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, March 19. Color
photographs and video b-roll also will be available.
The laser-radar system, or lidar, is collecting the signatures
wake vortices, which are invisible tornadoes
that spin off the wingtips of aircraft. The wakes from small planes
are not strong enough to affect most passenger aircraft. But those
from large planes can cause problems ranging from passenger
discomfort to serious accidents in smaller planes that fly into
The wake vortex data will be used to help determine if airplanes
may, in some cases, safely follow more closely together when
landing during inclement weather. Currently, air traffic
controllers rigidly apply fixed spacings between different classes
of aircraft during adverse weather conditions. These spacings often
cause air traffic delays that disrupt flight schedules and increase
costs. But if more is understood about the behavior of wake
vortices, it may be possible to change those separation
The wake vortex work is part of a larger NASA effort called the
Terminal Area Productivity (TAP) program. The program goal is to
reduce costs and delays in a variety of areas at airports.
Directions to the Wake Vortex Lidar Trailer: Off Military
Highway near the Interstate 664 overpass in Norfolk, take Robin
Hood Road toward the airport. Take a right onto Miller Store Road.
Take the first left, into a unused overflow parking lot. Follow the
lot, as it dog-legs to the right, to the end. Park and look for the
40-foot trailer with the NASA logo on the side.
- end -
text-only version of this release