‘Game-changer’ tool for agricultural aircraft safety

TracMap technical product owner Tim Neumegen (foreground) demonstrates the new TracMap TML-A GPS...
TracMap technical product owner Tim Neumegen (foreground) demonstrates the new TracMap TML-A GPS unit for agricultural pilots on a flight simulator at the company’s premises in Mosgiel as aviation sales manager Gerald Harrex looks on. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
A new tool has been launched to make sure agricultural spreader pilots are safer in the air.

Mosgiel technology company TracMap released its new TML-A GPS aviation guidance unit yesterday at a special event at the Otago aerodrome.

The digital, touch screen system, which sits in the cockpit with the pilots, aims to make the pilots’ time in the air more effective, enjoyable, and eliminates one of their greatest risks.

The new system can detect wires, such as powerlines, and lets the pilots know when the hazards are near.

Wire strikes are the most common cause of aircraft accidents in New Zealand.

The system also aims to make spreading fertiliser on paddocks more efficient.

The farmer picks which paddocks need to be done through an online system, which the system picks up; it then gives guidance lines for the pilot to fly and spread along.

The TML-A GPS will also let the pilot know if fertiliser is landing in waterways, meaning it is environmentally friendly.

After a nine-month process of building and developing the system, TracMap was now ready to go commercial, TracMap technical product owner Tim Neumegen said.

The development stage began with interviewing pilots in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States to see what they wanted in the new technology. After that sketches were drawn up of what it could look like, then developers spent six months getting it built and ready to head to market.

Mr Neumegen said eliminating hazards was a big factor in the interviews with the pilots.

"With this [the TML-A GPS] they can also mark the hazard on the GPS and any other aircraft using the system will be able to see that hazard," Mr Neumegen said.

TracMap aviation salesman Gerald Harrex said there had always been limitations with the previous software.

"There has always been a wish-list from pilots but now these guys can basically do everything with this.

"This is a game-changer for the industry," Mr Harrex said.

The firm had already received 15 pre-orders ahead of yesterday’s launch.

TracMap head of sales Gus Hewitt said there had been strong interest from Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

The technology was worth $16,000 each, he said.

"Its a big deal if a pilot is going to lay that sort of money down on one of their aircraft."

- By Riley Kennedy

riley.kennedy@odt.co.nz

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