FLARM has been awarded the UK BGA’s Bill Scull Safety Award during AERO 2019. The motivation for the award from the BGA is as follows:
Bill Scull was a very active safety practitioner in gliding. The Bill Scull award is presented annually to a person or organisation for services to gliding safety.
Mid-air collisions have killed 33 UK glider pilots since 1975. Almost all mid-air glider collisions are with another glider, and they mainly happen in the dynamic situations in thermals and around airfields, where other gliders can be hidden from sight behind the glider structure.
In 2004, three Swiss glider pilots applied their engineering expertise to design a system that would alert pilots about an imminent collision and give an indication of the direction in which the threat lay.
Today, most of the active UK glider fleet carries the FLARM system that they invented; we have had no glider-glider collisions since 2014 – the first time that there have been four such years in a row; and there has only ever been one collision between FLARM-equipped gliders.
Having invented the FLARM system and designed the first devices, Urs, Andrea and Urban continued to develop the system to improve its performance, adapt its behaviour for competitions, add functionality to measure antenna performance and find lost gliders and to build in an obstacle database. New versions allowed multiple antennas for better coverage, and detection of powered aircraft equipped with transponders or ADS-B.
FLARM’s complex path prediction algorithms mean that it remains the only collision alerting system that is effective in the close manoeuvring situations such as thermals in which gliders spend so much time.
For devising, manufacturing, sustaining and continuing to develop this exceptional safety system, which has helped prevent collisions and save glider pilots’ lives across Europe, Urs, Andrea and Urban are deserving recipients of the Bill Scull safety award.