Business & GA

NATS Trials New Safety Beacon for General Aviation Pilots

By Woodrow Bellamy III | June 7, 2016
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LPAT onboard a National Police Air Service helicopter picked up the signals of the crane during the trial.
LPAT onboard a National Police Air Service helicopter picked up the signals of the crane during the trial. Photo: NATS UK.

[Avionics Magazine 06-07-2016] NATS UK, the Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) for the United Kingdom, has successfully installed and demonstrated a new safety beacon in Newham, London in partnership with Carillion and Select Cranes. The beacon, known as a low-powered Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) ADS-B transceiver or LPAT, was installed on a tower crane in Newham and successfully completed a proof of concept trial where it transmitted its location to aircraft in the area.

General aviation pilots typically fly by Visual Flight Rules (VFR), meaning they look out of the window and use landmarks, buildings and rivers to navigate through the airspace. Under VFR pilots have responsibility for seeing and avoiding any obstacles as they fly. However, the introduction of an electronic beacon could provide an additional level of safety.

 
The trial, run by NATS with support from Carillion and Select Cranes, saw an Arena Aviation helicopter and a National Police Air Services helicopter, each equipped with an LPAT, picking up electronic signals of the crane’s position from 1 nautical mile away. LPAT performs a similar role to a transponder by transmitting an aircraft’s location to other airspace users, and it is light weight and low powered.
 

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