Takeoff and Landing Distance Measurement: An Evaluation of Laser Altimetry for the Collection of Absolute Aircraft Altitude
Kennedy, Christopher John
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The measurement of takeoff and landing distance during flight testing of general aviation aircraft requires the accurate measurement of aircraft position over the ground and altitude up to 50 feet above surface elevation. Current methods of evaluating takeoff and landing distances include cinetheodolites, laser and radar trackers, and Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS). The use of laser altimetry to range altitude above the ground originated with military and agricultural aircraft. The AgLaser laser module was an infrared laser ranging unit designed for agricultural aircraft to gauge optimal spray height above a field. The AgLaser system has a stated accuracy of 2.0 inches and a maximum range of 500 feet.  By integrating the AgLaser system into the Flight Test Data Acquisition System designed at Florida Institute of Technology, the ability exists to measure takeoff and landing distance more accurately than currently acceptable methods. The integration of the laser module and the instrumentation unit occurred across an RS-232 serial connection and a modified LabVIEW interface. Through a series of ground and flight tests conducted at Florida Institute of Technology and Valkaria Airport (X59), the integrated system was validated. Data from this research can be presented to the Federal Aviation Administration for consideration as an accurate, cost- effective means of measuring takeoff and landing distances for aircraft certification per 14 CFR Part 23.