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CANADA: Airbus agrees to commercialize anti-laser windscreen material; eliminates need for laser protective eyewear

Airbus has entered into an agreement with Halifax-based Metamaterial Technologies Inc. to “validate, certify, and commercialize” MTI’s laser glare reducing filter for use on aircraft windscreens. This means that pilots will automatically be protected from the visual interference of bright laser beams — at least, lasers that have the same wavelength (color) that the filter protects against.

The film will not fully block the laser light. But it will significantly reduce the glare and temporary flash blindness effects that can occur when a laser is aimed at an aircraft cockpit. This in turn reduces the potential hazard of a laser illumination.

The announcement was made at a February 21 2017 press conference. In a press release kit photo, MTI’s founder and CEO, George Palikaras, demonstrated the laser-reflecting properties by holding up a windscreen that included MTI’s metaAir film:

George Palikaras MTI Lamda Guard metaAir laser windscreen

The press release did not indicate a time frame for introduction of the windscreens into service, nor details such as an estimated cost, or aircraft to be outfitted. An Airbus spokesperson did say that there are applications beyond the company’s commercial aircraft division. Palikaras said that metaAir “can offer solutions in other industries including the military, transportation and glass manufacturers.”

For more detailed information on Airbus’ and MTI’s plans, see this page which includes interview Q&A questions with George Palikaras a few days after the February 21 press conference.

UPDATED April 14 2017: Metamaterials Technologies Inc. closed an $8.3 million round of funding. This will be used to support commercialization of the windscreen film and to add needed staff. MTI can produce MetaAir sheets 80 cm wide by 100 cm long, which is sufficient for standard cockpit windows that are 60 cm wide. However, the process is currently semi-automated and needs to be fully automated. MTI is also looking for new headquarters. From the Chronicle Herald.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. issued a press release dated February 21 2017, which is reprinted below.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. Partners with Airbus to Co-develop and Commercialize metaAIR™, a Laser Protection Solution



Halifax, N.S. February 21, 2017 – Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (MTI) and its optical filters division, Lamda Guard, announced today, February 21st, that it has entered into a new agreement with leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus to validate, certify, and commercialize its laser protection product metaAIR™, for aviation. In 2014, MTI signed its first agreement with Airbus to test and tailor metaAIR™, which is a flexible metamaterial optical filter, engineered to protect vision against harmful laser beams aimed at aircraft.

Laser strikes on commercial aircraft are rising globally and laser pointers are increasing in power and decreasing in price. Lasers can distract pilots during critical phases of flight and can cause temporary visual impairment. In 2015, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the number of reported laser incidents nearly doubled to 7,703 in commercial aviation. In 2015, there were 1,439 laser incidents reported to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK and there were almost 600 reported by Transport Canada

“We know from facts and conversations with clients that cockpit illuminations are real, immediate and increasing in frequency, and metaAIR will benefit our customers,” said Pascal Andrei, Vice President, Chief Product Security Officer at Airbus. “We also see an increasing number of possible applications for metaAIR, beyond the commercial aircraft division.”

MTI is a great example of Airbus “start-up 2 partner” program led by Elsa Keïta from Airbus Corporate Innovation. This program aims at building mutually beneficial partnerships with disruptive innovators and Airbus has been working in a successful and collaborative approach with MTI to accelerate their laser protection solution for the benefit of its customers.

“Our objective is to place Canada and its citizens on innovation’s leading edge. The presence of Airbus here today demonstrates that highly skilled Canadian researchers and entrepreneurs, like those at MTI, are creating innovative solutions to global problems,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Canadian Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

“We look forward to continuing our relationship with Airbus as we move to commercialize metaAIR. Together we will be able to make a positive impact on the aviation industry around the world,” said Maurice Guitton, MTI Board Chairman.

“Today marks another milestone in our strategic partnership with Airbus. We are given the opportunity to propel our platform technology and learn from some of the top aerospace engineers while understanding the rigours of developing a product for the aerospace industry,” said George Palikaras, MTI Founder and CEO. “metaAIR will provide vision protection to pilots in the aviation industry and can offer solutions in other industries including the military, transportation and glass manufacturers.”

MTI has also developed a partnership with Covestro, one of the world’s leading companies for high-tech polymers. Covestro supplies a custom Bayfol® HX photopolymer film for the manufacturing of metaAIR™.

“MTI is at the cutting edge of optical applications. They have developed a unique optical filter that is different from anything currently available on the market, and we have been working with them for the last two years to provide a speciality photopolymer material film and support the required volume,” said Thomas Fäcke, responsible for marketing and business development of photopolymer films at Covestro. “Safety is very important to our company, and we are excited to be a part of this solution.”

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About Metamaterial Technologies Inc.
Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (“MTI”) is a smart materials and photonics company specializing in metamaterial research, nanofabrication, and computational electromagnetics. The company has developed a new class of optical smart materials, changing the way we use, interact and benefit from light. MTI is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has offices in London, England and Pleasanton, California. To learn more visit www.metamaterial.com

About Airbus
Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2015, it generated revenues of €64.5 billion and employed a workforce of around 136,600. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as Europe’s number one space enterprise and the world’s second largest space business. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

About Covestro
With 2015 sales of € 12.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 15,800 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2015. More information on Covestro can be found at www.covestro.com.