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FIRST FLIGHT OF A NEW POWER LINE SENSOR DESIGNED BY McDONNELL DOUGLAS TO WARN HELICOPTER PILOTS TAKES PLACE

 ST. LOUIS, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The first flight of a new power line sensor designed by McDonnell Douglas (NYSE: MD) to improve helicopter flight safety by warning pilots when they are flying too close to electrical power lines took place here today.
 Radio and television traffic reporter Allen Barklage conducted the inaugural flight test for McDonnell Douglas Aerospace on behalf of Helicopters Inc., of St. Louis, following his morning broadcast flight today.
 The power line sensor, developed through McDonnell Douglas' New Aircraft and Missile Products (NAMP) division, has potential application on virtually any commercial and military helicopter. Production versions of the system, which includes a small magnetic- field sensor and a compact electronic unit, are expected to be available for modest cost.
 The system detects the magnetic fields produced by power lines, then warns pilots by issuing a series of audible beeps that increase in frequency if the pilot keeps flying toward the power lines. To eliminate false alarms from power lines not in the flight path, the system activates only if the helicopter is on a continuous heading toward the hazard.
 Bob Gaines, a McDonnell Douglas engineer, invented the power line sensor and built a prototype at home in 1989. During initial testing in a park, the system detected power lines 1,000 feet away. In 1990, the project was funded under McDonnell Douglas' independent research and development activities. The sensor now can detect power lines at a range of 3.5 miles.
 Helicopter pilots were consulted in the development of the system, Gaines said. "We wanted to ask potential users of the system how they might like it configured," he said.
 "While discussing this with Barklage, Helicopters Inc. offered to flight test our system at no cost after one of his daily traffic reports," Gaines said.
 During the flight test today, Gaines and another McDonnell Douglas engineer, Steve Nunes, were on board to monitor the testing and measure the magnetic fields around selected St. Louis-area power lines from various altitudes.
 McDonnell Douglas' New Aircraft and Missile Products division is responsible for guiding the development of advanced aerospace products such as the U.S. Navy's A/FX aircraft and component systems such as the new power line sensor.
 -0- 1/14/93
 /CONTACT: Jim Schlueter of McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, 314-233-6232/
 (MD)


CO: McDonnell Douglas; McDonnell Douglas Aerospace ST: California IN: AIR ARO SU:

EH -- LA021 -- 4865 01/14/93 12:16 EST
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Date:Jan 14, 1993
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