Pilots Propose Anti-Collision Device for Formation Flying

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Two pilots have filed a patent for a device that they say could help to prevent mid-air collisions like the one that killed two helicopter pilots and two videographers in Phoenix, Ariz., in July. The crews were covering a police pursuit for television news. Inventors Chris Morrison and Ralph Gannarelli knew two of the men who died and said the crash convinced them to move forward with their efforts. “We both were deeply affected by the crash, and thought there could be a better way for news pilots to see where each helicopter is located in relation to one another while so many are in the air at one time,” Morrison told the East Valley Tribune. The two have developed a wireless GPS device that could issue voice announcements to keep pilots apprised of the location of other aircraft within a one-mile radius. The system would also sound a warning if another helicopter comes within 300 feet.

Patent paperwork was filed last week, but it could be up to two years before the device can be marketed.