In the air, wake vortices tend to disappear quite fast but near the ground they can hover a bit before dissipating. These vortices are one of the reasons airplanes, depending on their size, have to respect a certain distance with other aircrafts for the landing. For example, medium-sized aircrafts (MTOW in between 7T and 136T) must be separate by at least 9km for landing.
To decrease this spacing, German aerospace research centre DLR, is developing, in partnership with Austrian air navigation service provider Austro Control a technology that would make vortices disappear faster. To allow this, DLR is testing panels 9m long and 4.5m high installed in the approach of Vienna Airport runway 16.
“The very first evaluations of the new measurements in Vienna show that the wake vortices near the [panels] decay noticeably faster,” says Frank Holzapfel of DLR’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics.
This structure is scheduled to be permanently installed in 2021 as test phases are being operated until September 2019.