[Avionics Today 03-11-2015] The 2015 World Air Traffic Management (ATM) Congress is bringing some of the top names in the global aviation and air traffic technology industry together in Madrid this week. While engineers, controllers, pilots and regulators attending the conference will definitely be discussing the challenges of preventing another MH370-type of incident, the conference will also focus on the continuing technological evolution and improvement of air traffic management in military and civilian airspace around the globe.
The ongoing shift from radar and ground-based navigation procedures and guidance technology under Europe's Single European Sky (SES) and the U.S.'s NextGen projects will be highly discussed, especially in terms of how other regions of the world can mimic the changes occurring in both regions.
Here are five big ATM technological and regulatory trends to watch for discussions and new announcements on during the World ATM Congress this week.
Florian Guillermet, Executive Director of the SESAR Joint Undertaking shaking hands with Massimo Garbini, managing director, SESAR Deployment Manager. Photo: SESAR JU.
1. Big Data
All aspects of the aviation industry consume and emit enormous amounts of data, from airlines and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) tracking the efficiency of aircraft and health and performance to Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) collecting data about weather conditions and other parameters about the airspace that those same aircraft fly in. During the "Smart Choices" panel discussion, civil aviation officials involved in ATM modernization projects in Asia and the U.S. examined the challenges and importance of creating policy framework for sharing airspace data across international borders.
Soh Poh Theen, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is currently working with the Asia Pacific Regional Aviation Safety Team's effort to improve safety as the volume of air traffic in the Asia Pacific continues to see a significant annual increase.
"The old challenges of cross-border ATM developments haven't gone away," Theen said during the opening day panel discussion. "If big companies have this problem [of sharing data], imagine what its like to share ANSP data across states."
During a recent interview with Avionics Magazine
, Aireon CEO Don Thoma discussed the challenges that his company foresees in the future of sharing data from between ANSPs when its Aircraft Location and Emergency Response Service (ALERT) goes live in 2017. ALERT
will give search and rescue agencies, Air Traffic Control (ATC) providers and airlines the ability to request the location and last flight track of any 1090 Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipped aircraft they might have lost communications with when the company's global space-based ADS-B service becomes operational.
2. European Functional Airspace Blocks
The European Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) are foundational for the improvement of ATM throughout Europe, under the Single European Sky project. Europe features 29 different zones of major Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers, and the goal of the Single European Sky (SES) is to reduce that number down to nine.
During the conference, the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) to help spur the deployment of FABs and other SES initiatives. Under the agreement, both organizations have agreed to harness "existing cooperation mechanisms" and deploy effective bridging between research and development and the implementation phase of the program to further facilitate interstate operability.
Aireon also made a big announcement regarding the FAB initiative, as the developer of the space-based global air traffic surveillance system signed an MOU with the Blue Med FAB, an ANSP cooperative of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta, whose mission is to streamline the flow of airspace over the Mediterranean area in compliance with the Single European Sky 2 (SESII) regulatory framework. The agreement will enable the Blue Med FAB ANSPs to introduce space-based ADS-B surveillance in the Mediterranean airspace.
The Aeronautical Mobile Airport Communications System (AeroMACs) is a technology that enables high data rate communications in the airport environment. According to aviation consulting firm Senza Fili Consulting's new white paper on AeroMACS, the more advanced cellular and Wi-Fi technologies supports "a multitude of coexisting applications over a single platform shared by air traffic control agencies, airlines and airports, using the Aeronautical Mobile (Route) Service (AM(R)S) band (5091–5150 MHz) for airport ground applications allocated for safety and traffic control worldwide, first presented by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) at the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2007,” the white paper states.
According to Senza Fili, which will present its white paper during the two-day Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) Forum at the World ATM Congress, larger airports in developed countries will lead the earlier adoption of AeroMACS.
The most recent activity around AeroMACs in the U.S. stems from the FAA's August 2014 solicitation published in the federal business opportunities register requesting information from wireless broadband communication service providers, system developers and manufacturers as it considers AeroMACs procurement strategies. The agency is looking for an airport surface AEROMACs system that would use the WiMAX Forum profile of the existing IEEE802.16-2009 standard and operate in the internationally allocated dedicated aeronautical AM(R)S radio frequency spectrum from 5091-5150 MHz, with optional future expansion to include 5000 to 5030 MHz.
4. Remote Tower Technology
Remote ATC tower technology deployment and demonstrations have continued to increase in civil airspace regions throughout the international air transportation industry. The remote tower concept allows air traffic controllers to manage aircraft operations at small and regional airports from a distance with the use of cameras and sensors. Cameras and sensors are linked in real time to a common control center, with integrated camera views, radar data and wind and weather information in a virtual display of airport reducing the need to keep multiple control towers staffed at airports with low daily flight activity.
During the World ATM Congress, Searidge is providing an educational session advising ANSPs on selecting remote tower partners.
5. Commercial UAS Surveillance
ANSPs are still researching the potential impact of commercially operated Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in civil airspace. Several educational sessions and one panel discussion have been scheduled to address new issues presented by commercial UAS.
In the U.S., the FAA recently proposed regulations for the commercial use of small UAS weighing 55 pounds, including maximum altitudes, airspace classes and specifications.
NASA is currently working with Exelis and other companies, universities and government agencies to develop air traffic management technology that could potentially allow the FAA to permits Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) UAS operations. BLOS operations refer to the package delivery and Wi-Fi broadcasting type of operations that companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google are currently developing.
In the October 2014
edition of Avionics Magazine
, Sayadian said Exelis is also working with the FAA to explore how its nationwide network of ADS-B ground stations can support commercial UAS surveillance in the future. The company's Symphony OpsVue system has the exclusive right to use a data feed it already provides to the FAA to track manned aircraft, and that feed could be augmented with lower altitude data to track UAS.
Check back in with Avionics Magazine's Web coverage next week for more post-conference coverage.