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Do any gliders come with a ground proximity warning system (GPWS)? I realise that, for a glider, a GPWS probably wouldn't be able to help quite as much as in a powered aircraft, since a glider, by definition, doesn't have any engines which it can apply TOGA power on (unless, of course, it's a motorglider), but it could still warn the pilot if they were descending too rapidly for their altitude or were about to land with the glider in an unsafe configuration, thus allowing the pilot to take the necessary actions for avoiding a crash (for instance, by pulling back on the yoke, jettisoning ballast, lowering the flaps and landing gear if the glider in question is so equipped, etc.).

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  • $\begingroup$ Seems like this would be more of a distraction than a benefit. As my first flight instructor was fond of saying, "Get your head out of the cockpit!" $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 5 '18 at 18:03
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Many glider pilots have a GPS flight computer that usually has terrain loaded in its database and can alert a glider pilot of terrain. This is not quite a GPWS but is cheaper and uses a lot less power (glider pilots rely on batteries for their electrical system). Most GA aircraft don't have a GPWS either and usually rely on the GPS solution. ForeFlight has a nice feature called Synthetic Vision which can allow you to see terrain in IMC conditions and is much cheaper than a GPWS.

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GPWS is mostly useful for aircraft flying in instrument conditions or at night when there is low visibility preventing a good view of the ground. Gliders aren't designed to fly in these conditions and they don't have the required instruments. They should be able to see the ground and avoid it without GPWS.

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    $\begingroup$ Plus, don't gliders usually have not much of an electrical system? I would imagine that radar is kind of power hungry. $\endgroup$ – Wayne Conrad Jun 4 '18 at 0:27
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    $\begingroup$ Note that the second answer in your link shows that you can, in some jurisdictions at least, fly a glider in clouds. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Jun 4 '18 at 22:29
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I found this video of a glider equipped with GPWS, however, I doubt that such a system is very useful in glider, that isn't very complex and would consider it a gimmick.

Also because the sounds in the video are Boeing GPWS sounds, so it's probably self-built for fun.

So, to summarize: There surely are some self-built systems for fun and coolness, but I don't think there would be enough demand and need for a commercial system.

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A glider will be usually flown according to VFR. So it is basically the task of the pilot to maintain adeqaute distance to terrain. The distance can be rather low, flying in mountains. As already mentioned, current onboard flight computers include terrain databases, that will provide you with AGL. Software like XCSoar will perform a final glide calculation taking terrain into account, telling the pilot if glide path will be in conflict with terrain. More important than GPWS is obstacle collision avoidance, as obstacles like power lines or cablecars in mountains are hard to see. The popular traffic awareness system Flarm can optionally host a obstacle database and then will provide apropriate warnings.

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