Take a look through the keyhole
Long version of the luftpost interview with Marc Gerlach, Sales Manager Avionics Projects at f.u.n.k.e. Avionics GmbH. As of 11.2020.
Currently, one of the hottest topics in the wind industry is that of solutions for retrofitting wind turbines with On-demand Night-time Marking (ONM). As early as 2019, Deutsche Windtechnik and f.u.n.k.e. Avionics GmbH worked together on an independent ADLS system that has now become one of the first to be certified and is therefore available on the market. The company f.u.n.k.e. Avionics GmbH specialises in developing and manufacturing avionic devices and avionic system solutions in the areas of communication, navigation and display.
Mr Gerlach, how familiar is f.u.n.k.e. Avionics GmbH with the wind industry? Were you able to build on previous experience or was the ADLS project your first venture in a wind energy context?
Even in the early days of transponder-based ONM more than twelve years ago, our company was already active with some initial ideas and proposed solutions. At that time we were operating under a different name. At the beginning of 2019, we looked at this topic again, when the legal regulations for operators were becoming clear and we were able to offer a new solution for the ONM sensor component using new technology. We trialled this approach successfully on a wind turbine in spring 2019.
How did f.u.n.k.e. Avionics GmbH and Deutsche Windtechnik begin working together?
Our first contacts took place early in summer of 2019 and led very quickly to the launch of the project. Together we were able to take the ADLS system from design to approval in less than a year. That alone is remarkable and could only be achieved because all the project participants were pursuing their objectives with a high level of commitment. It was certainly helpful that we had different backgrounds and that we complemented each other perfectly.
How does the jointly developed ADLS system work?
Transponder-based ONM uses measurements of transponder signals emitted by aircraft during flight. These signals can be received by suitable receivers positioned on the wind turbines and used to determine aircraft position. If the aircraft position is too close to the wind turbines, the obstruction lighting is switched on to warn planes and helicopters. As aircraft transponder manufacturers ourselves, of course we know how to recognise these signals reliably and how to process the data that they contain.
What are the distinguishing features of this system, from your point of view? What were the major challenges that had to be overcome?
Our chosen approach is very well suited to wind farms of different sizes, with a variety of types of terrain. Since only one receiver is needed to control lighting for the whole wind farm, this is a particularly effective solution for wind farm operators, without compromising on safe monitoring of airspace. This is particularly evident in the requirement for airspace to be covered right down to ground level. With other approaches there are sometimes considerable difficulties. The chosen business model also addresses customer requirements and is well suited for wind farms with one or more operators.
In your opinion, what are the qualities that both companies ultimately contributed to successful development of the ADLS?
We were able to contribute our expertise in development of aviation-certified products and design and control of radio sensors. Our colleagues from Deutsche Windtechnik focused on lighting control, data transfer and processing in the wind farm as well as central system control. The cooperation between the two teams has been truly exemplary throughout the year – characterised by mutual trust, respect, constructive discussion and purposeful work in a pleasant atmosphere. Good cooperation was certainly the foundation for this excellent result.
Thank you very much for the interview, Mr Gerlach!