Airbus, with the support of EADS Innovation Works, has opened the first "stealthy building" at the Toulouse Airbus site attached to Blagnac Airport.
EADS and Airbus built the C65 hangar at the airport by equipping the building with specially shaped aluminium panels. These panels prevent the building from disrupting the airport's Instrument Landing System (ILS), which allows aircraft to land in reduced visibility conditions.
The large façades of buildings pose a problem for aircraft landing systems as they reflect incoming radio waves across the runway, much like a mirror. Such perturbations would cause aircraft to deviate from the runway centreline. For this reason construction is forbidden close to runways unless it can be demonstrated that the building is ‘stealthy’.
However, it is not feasible to apply conventional stealth technology to absorb the incoming waves since this would be prohibitively expensive. Instead the solution applied in Toulouse uses the phenomenon of diffraction to redirect the waves away from the runway. This is the same effect that produces the iridescent colours that are visible when holding up a compact disc up to a source of light. By employing ELISE, an advanced ILS simulation tool developed by Airbus Engineering, EADS Innovation Works and the French Civil Aviation University ENAC it was even possible to demonstrate that it would only be necessary to treat the top 10 metres of the building, leading to a cheaper solution.
EADS Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti said: “The successful completion of this Airbus facility requirement is an example of our commitment to the development of unique technical solutions for our customers and the aerospace industry.”
Airbus ProSky will now sell this technology assisted by the technical support from EADS Innovation Works. Airbus ProSky CEO Paul-Franck Bijou said: “By designing buildings that do not produce reflections, up to 100 square kilometres of non-buildable airport land worldwide could potentially be transformed into space available for construction, such as terminal buildings, maintenance hangars, or even outside airport boundaries like exhibitions centres, hotels and multi storey car parks.”