Flight-height tool saves fuel

Military pilots are reducing fuel use and mission time by selecting the best flying height with the help of a software tool that gives them a visual display of wind data.

Called Vertical Visual Optimiser (VVO), the software was developed by Qinetiq North America's Systems Engineering Group for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and works with US Portable Flight Planning Software (PFPS). Applicable to both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, the pre-flight planning solution is now available to all US military aviation platforms and those of allied nations.

VVO retrieves wind data at user-defined altitudes from defence weather sites and other sources and then graphically displays head and tail wind speeds on a desktop, laptop or knee-board computer so that pilots can quickly adjust altitude settings that take advantage of favourable winds.

The altitude adjustments and wind data can then be used in an aviator's mission planning system, resulting in an immediate update to the mission plan.

"With VVO, pilots can vary their route altitudes to achieve the optimal route based on fuel and time savings," said Lieutenant Colonel Dean Wild, systems manager, Australian Defence Force.

VVO is the newest component in Qinetiq North America's Confidence suite of integrated mission planning software for aviators, which has been fielded to the Army, Navy and Air Force branches of the ADF, and is currently in development for aviation organisations of the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.

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