Home News Alaska Aviation Safety Project adopts IKONOS satellite imagery

Alaska Aviation Safety Project adopts IKONOS satellite imagery

Space Imaging has announced it has sold over $1.6 million of IKONOS satellite imagery to The Alaska Department of Veterans and Military Affairs (ADMVA) for the new Alaska Aviation Safety Project (AASP). The ADMVA has contracted with E-Terra, a GIS applications integrator, headquartered in Anchorage, to use the IKONOS imagery to develop accurate flight simulation training modules of the 12 key mountain passes for the AASP. The new training modules will help Alaska meet the new Federal Aviation Administration’s requirement of reducing the state’s aviation accident statistics by 20 percent before 2008. The Medallion Foundation, a non-profit aviation safety organization that provides management resources, training and support to the commercial and private Alaskan aviation community, will also utilize the E-Terra training modules.

With a road system that is mostly unpaved, broken by mountain barriers and impassable under winter conditions, aviation is essential for internal Alaskan commerce and travel. Alaska is one of the world’s most heavily aviation-dependent regions, with approximately 600 public airports and more than 3,000 airstrips. But, dependence upon aviation comes with a price. Although Alaska has approximately 10 percent of the nation’s air carriers or commercial operators, it generates 35 percent of the nation’s air carrier and commercial operator accidents. A disproportionate number of these accidents occur when pilots fly one of these 12 key mountain passes, most of which connect Anchorage with the Alaskan interior.

“The Alaska Aviation Safety Project’s use of IKONOS high-resolution satellite imagery provides pilots an exact virtual 3-D image of what they will experience when they fly through these passes,” states Major General Craig Campbell, commissioner of ADMVA. “These training modules will prepare pilots to safely travel through these dangerous passes and lower the risk factor for accidents.”

Most of the aviation accidents that occur within the mountainous air corridors are due to inaccurate terrain data, and the slow adaptation of pilots in using new technologies to better prepare for flights. Traditional simulation tools for these passes, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator(TM), do not portray the terrain with sufficient accuracy. Use of IKONOS imagery is a dramatic step forward and provides pilots a more realistic visualization of each of the 12 passes. Pilots now have the ability to train flying through the 12 dangerous passes with a 3D simulation of the exact mountainous terrain.

“Utilizing satellite imagery in simulation training is an important aspect of future military and civil aviation applications,” said Gene Colabatistto, executive vice president of Solutions at Space Imaging. E-Terra has already completed two of the 12 simulation training modules with the remaining 10 to be finished within six months.