The local Westinghouse Electric Corp. division has won federal approval to market a radar system designed to detect and warn pilots of wind shear, which has been the cause of several commercial airline crashes.
James Reinhard, a Westinghouse spokesman, said the "preventive" system can detect wind shear from a distance of up to 10 miles, which would give pilots up to 90 seconds to steer a new course.
Some planes are currently equipped with "reactive" systems that warn pilots when they are caught in wind shear.
Mr. Reinhard declined to estimate the financial potential of the radar system, but in the past Westinghouse has said its entry into the market is expected to be a big business for the Linthicum-based Electronic Systems division.
Ronald Iori, a spokesman for AlliedSignal, which also produces a wind shear radar at a Bendix plant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said, "it's a good business. We sell hundreds of them a year and the business is still growing, but it's not a driving force of the company." Wind shear is an atmospheric condition similar to a hole in the sky where the wind drops straight down. It can suddenly push a landing plane to the ground.
The weather condition has been blamed for a number of fatal accidents, including the crash of a USAir DC-9 in Charlotte, N.C., this past summer that killed 37 people and injured 20.