[Avionics Today 11-5-2014] The Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) announced a new partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) focusing on modernizing Air Traffic Management (ATM) in Latin America. Both organizations are looking to accelerate Communication, Navigation and Surveillance/ATM through the Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBUs) model launched in 2013 by the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Global Air Navigation Plan.
Latin American airlines such as Avianca would benefit from Air Traffic Management upgrades in the region. Photo: Avianca.
IATA and RTCA are looking to work with governments and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) throughout South America and the greater Latin American region to facilitate the implementation of ICAO's ASBUs. ICAO's Global Air Navigation Plan represents a rolling 15-year strategic methodology that leverages existing technologies while anticipating future developments based on state and industry agreed operational objectives. The block upgrades are organized in five-year time increments, beginning in 2013 and continuing through 2028.
"The goal is to provide a more seamless air transportation system for those who operate there, improving overall efficiency and safety across the region," Margaret Jenny, president of RTCA, told Avionics Magazine. "The main focus here is to bring the industry into the process of identifying the challenges and reaching consensus on the solutions. By that we mean establishing a venue that will enable the Government Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to work collaboratively with the aviation stakeholders to decide what to deploy, where and when. Stakeholders include airspace users, air traffic management automation system providers, avionics and aircraft manufacturers, controllers, pilots, airports and others."
The current ATM technology in Brazil and throughout Latin America simply cannot manage the projected increase in air traffic coming into the region. The FAA's 2014 20-year global aviation forecast expects mainline air carrier enplanements in Latin America to grow at an average annual rate of 4.5 percent per year through 2024.
So what are the ATM improvements needed for Latin America's air transportation system? The top priority of ICAO's regional block upgrades plan is the implementation of more Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures. PBN is comprised of Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and describes an aircraft's capability to navigate using performance standards, according to the FAA. RNAV enables an aircraft to fly on any desired flight path within the coverage of ground- or space-based navigation aids, within the limits of the capability of the self-contained systems, or a combination of both capabilities.
Brazil provides an example of how PBN could create a more efficient airspace throughout Latin America, as well. In 2013, GE Aviation launched its two-year Green Skies of Brazil program, examining the use of RNP procedures at 10 airports. GOL became the first Latin American carrier to participate in the program, which involves Brazilian ANSP DECEA and several Brazilian airlines that use flight data analytics to identify methods for improving airspace usage. The program's experts determined that the airline could save up to $24 million in operating costs over the next five years using RNP flight paths.
While that program focuses on commercial airlines and projected growth rates coming into Latin America due to increased demand for commercial travel, the ATM modernization will also help private aviation in the region, according to Michael Friedman, marketing manager for corporate aviation consulting firm Private Jet Services Group (PJS).
"Private aviation is also on the rise in Latin America," Friedman told Avionics Magazine. "Though the economy in that part of the world is not growing at the same rate it was a few years ago, there is still a large number of high net worth individuals in those countries. In fact, the number of high net worth individuals in Brazil rose 17 percent from 2009 to 2013 according to the World and Wealth Report."
In recent years, PJS has also seen "far more demand for larger jets with more range for travel from Latin America to Europe and Asia," Friedman added.
IATA and RTCA are planning their first meeting under the new partnership this month in Lima, Peru, where they will meet with Latin American aviation community stakeholders to propose the best path forward under ICAO's block upgrades model.
"The output of the TF will be a report that (1) documents the regional consensus on what ASBU capabilities will be deployed in the region by agreed-to dates, and (2) lays out all the actions necessary to ensure the deployments deliver the intended benefits," said Jenny.