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The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry. , according to GlobalData’s report on High intensity warfare in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Visual landing aids. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 262,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the aerospace and defence industry, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Visual landing aids is a key innovation area in high intensity warfare 

Visual landing aids (VLA), of which there are numerous types and variants, are key to ensuring the safety of aircraft pilots and ground staff during take-off and landing. VLAs provide cues for pilots to enhance situational awareness, particularly in complex tasks such as night operations, shipboard landings, extreme weather take-off/landings and degraded airspace operations. Types of VLAs include flight deck status/signalling systems and precision approach path indicators for fixed-wing aircraft runways, and hover position indicators for rotary-wing aircraft helipads. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of visual landing aids. 

Key players in visual landing aids – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to visual landing aids

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Dialight 33 Unlock Company Profile
Hughey & Phillips 25 Unlock Company Profile
A D B 16 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 12 Unlock Company Profile
Lagercrantz Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
Faurecia 12 Unlock Company Profile
Danaher 8 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 7 Unlock Company Profile
TKH Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 6 Unlock Company Profile
ams 6 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 6 Unlock Company Profile
SPX Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

In terms of leading patent filers for visual landing aids technology, the leading applicant over the last several years has been Dialight. The company is a specialist in the design and manufacturing of LED lighting solutions for hazardous environments and has, thus, invested significantly in researching and developing more resilient lighting solutions with increased endurance and reduced energy requirements. Hughey & Phillips is the second most prominent filer of patent applications, as a leader in the production of airfield and aircraft lighting for the aerospace and defence market with years of technical expertise to underpin further modernisation and development. The only defence-specific firm to rank highly in terms of VAL innovation has been Safran, as the French firm continues to expand its product portfolio of defence electronics for applications across all domains of conflict. Some other key patent filers in the automotive industry include A D B, NEC, Lagercrantz Group and Honeywell International.

In terms of application diversity, Hughey & Phillips has been the global leader over the past seven years. Dialight and Danaher were ranked second and third globally by the same metric. In terms of geographic reach, A D B held the top position, followed closely by Lagercrantz Group and Faurecia.

As a growing number of nations look to modernise their aircraft fleets and air power projection capabilities through the procurement of aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers and deployable airbase modules, sufficient consideration must be given to the safety solutions being procured to support those capabilities. Indeed, as countries such as the US and the UK look to take a more expeditionary military posture typified by more extended and high-frequency deployments, demand for reliable visual landing aids and related solutions will spur innovation and growth within this niche sub-market. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research: High Intensity Warfare

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.