ATM Modernization, Commercial, Embedded Avionics

5 Ways Airbus is Advancing Innovative Aircraft Technology Concepts

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | February 24, 2016
Send Feedback

[Avionics Today 02-23-2016] Airbus’ onboard technology experts in Toulouse are constantly working to introduce avionics innovation and new technologies that help improve flight operational efficiency for their aircraft users. Recently, Airbus has made some significant progress in the areas of satellite-based navigation, satellite communications, and the exchange of data in real time between aircraft and ground automation systems. 
Here is an overview of five projects Airbus recently provided updates on in terms of using avionics and other onboard technologies to improve aircraft performance.
The Airbus A350 static cockpit display at the Singapore Airshow. Photo: Airbus.

Synthetic Vision

Airbus has achieved Technical Readiness Level 4 (TLR4) on a new and improved Synthetic Vision System (SVS) that specifically focuses on reducing pilot workload during the busiest phases of flight, especially during the approach phase. Recently, a mature version of the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) latest SVS was demonstrated on a prototype hardware display in a simulator. 
Airbus has not yet stated which of its aircraft types the new SVS technology is designed for, however in a recent statement, the company noted that feedback from pilots favors a moving from a "pitch-and-power approach to more of a trajectory-management approach that makes it much easier to see at a glance where they're headed."
In December 2015, the FAA published new airworthiness approval guidance stating that, at this time, the agency is not authorizing the use of synthetic vision as a means to descend 200 feet Height Above Touchdown (HAT) on Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) or GPS instrument approach minimums. The flight procedural benefits of using synthetic vision outside of being used as a tool for increased situational awareness have not yet evolved to the level that they can yet, but Airbus is still looking to improve the capabilities of its existing synthetic vision technology overall. 
"As the team continues to mature SVS and add functionalities, a second operational and human factors evaluation will take place this spring to help finalize the concept," Airbus said in a recent news roundup.

Satellite-Based Navigation

Recently, Airbus ProSky announced a key milestone in the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) RNP Implementation Synchronized in Europe (RISE) project. RISE was launched in 2014 with the goal of conducting 160 flight trials that demonstrate a range of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) such as Required Navigation Performance (RNP) Approach, RNP Arrival, Visual RNAV, and RNP to Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures.
The most recent achievement was the successful completion of an RNP flight trial in Corfu, Iraklion and Santorini in collaboration with the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) and Swedish airline Novair. 
The RISE project is scheduled to continue through September of this year, with more airlines and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) completing similar trials in Greece, France, Cyprus and Portugal. Throughout the trials, pilots and air traffic controllers are providing feedback and capturing data on the procedures in terms of flyability, safety, workload and the reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. 

Iridium Satcom

Another satellite-based achievement for Airbus comes in the form of the OEM's Iridium satellite communications solution that is now certified on all Airbus aircraft to support data link communications for both Air Traffic Control and Airline Operational Communication (AOC) activities. 
Airbus Upgrade Services is now in the full "ramp-up" phase with the satcom hardware, with more than 100 shipsets delivered and another 200 delivers planned for 2016. 
Since achieving certification for the Iridium satcom hardware in 2014, more than 15 airlines flying in North America, Europe and Asia have selected to equip their aircraft with it in forward-fit and retrofit applications. 

A350 XWB ROPS Validated

Airbus has validated that the Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) featured on the A350 XWB is capable of working on a runway that is contaminated with ice. Validation was achieved at Finland's Rovaniemi Airport, where new Airbus A350 XWB operator Finnair is currently flying the industry's newest commercial airliner. 
"The previous version of ROPS could provide protection on “wet” or “dry” runways, but now its functionality is extended to runways contaminated with ice — which is an industry ‘first’ and brings certification of the latest version of the A350’s innovative ROPS system a step further later this year," Airbus said in a statement. 
Finnair Chief Operating Officer Ville Iho recently told Avionics Magazine that the airline is excited about the flight operational benefits they expect to achieve with the new aircraft flying it extensively on international routes to the Asia-Pacific region.

TAT Optimizer

The Airbus Emerging Technologies and Concepts group in Bangalore, India has developed a new Turn-Around Time & Operations Optimizer (TAT Optimizer) software to give airlines the ability to perform real time monitoring of on-ground aircraft activities.  Under the TAT Optimizer concept, data related to on-ground activities is transmitted by the aircraft in real time to a cloud platform that can be accessed and presented on the end user's smartphone, tablet, lap top or other computing device. 

"Future enhancements will include connecting aircraft and an on-board integration of TAT Optimizer with the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), the cabin logbook and the Cabin Intercommunication Data System (CIDS)," Airbus said. 

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox