ATM Modernization, Commercial

4 Avionics Goals for the Single European Sky Roadmap

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | June 21, 2016
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[Avionics Magazine 06-21-2016] Last week the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) published the first edition of its SESAR Solutions catalogue, featuring an overview of 63 different SESAR solutions that have been delivered so far or are currently in the research and development phase for SESAR JU. By the end of 2016, SESAR JU says it will have delivered more than 60 of the solutions to the European air transportation community.
Florian GUILLERMET, Executive Director of the SESAR JU, and Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport holding the new SESAR Solutions catalogue. Photo: SESAR JU.
To deliver these solutions, SESAR JU and its members have conducted 300 industrial research projects, 350 validation exercises and 30,000 flight trials. For an average trip taken in Europe, it is expected that these solutions will offer a 20-minute reduction in door-to-door travel time, 10kg in fuel savings per passenger and 15 euros in ticket savings. The SESAR JU research consortium says this catalogue of solutions will serve as a baseline for the next phase of the SESAR program, SESAR 2020.
Here are four SESAR solutions either ready for industrialization or in development with a direct impact on aircraft avionics systems. 

Ground Based Augmentation System II/III

A Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) is designed to provide corrections to aircraft in the vicinity of an airport in order to improve the accuracy of the aircraft’s navigational position as it approaches the airport to land. Globally, airports, operators, and regulatory authorities view GBAS as an alternative to the operational limitations of traditional Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) that pilots have relied on for decades with approach and landing guidance in low-visibility conditions.
As part of its validation efforts, SESAR JU has conducted more than 90 flights at various European airports evaluating the use of GBAS Cat II/III, which are procedures designed to enable precision landing in low visibility conditions. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements for GBAS Landing System (GLS) Cat I requirements have been established in ICAO Annex 10 Volume 1, and currently procedures for GLS Cat II/III are being developed. “Assuming that standardization and regulation progress as planned, the entry into service of GBAS Category II/III is expected in the 2018-2019 timeframe,” SESAR JU indicates in its SESAR solutions catalogue.
GBAS capability is standard on Boeing 747-8 and on Boeing 787 aircraft and is an option on Boeing 737NG and Airbus A320, A330/340 and A380 aircraft. Honeywell International’s SLS-4000 SmartPath Landing System is the only GBAS station currently approved for airport operations globally.

Flexible Communications Avionics

SESAR JU’s description of its flexible communication avionics initiative — regarding the actual developers and manufacturers involved — is vague, although the goal has been clearly defined. This SESAR solution aims to overcome the equipment challenges encountered on today’s aircraft in terms of communications radios used for different purposes.
On today’s aircraft, as defined by SESAR, the continued modernization of communications and surveillance technologies being deployed requires several different radios reserved for VHF frequencies, satellite communications, L-band digital aeronautical communications system (LDACS) and Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), among other digital communications purposes. 
“SESAR’s flexible communication avionics aims to overcome this equipment challenge with the introduction of multi-purpose communications equipment capable of fulfilling conventional radio transceiver functions using generic computing platforms and software,” the consortium notes in its latest SESAR solutions catalogue. 
According to SESAR JU, the feasibility of this solution has been validated through the development of two prototypes and laboratory testing. A goal of this initiative is to establish the opportunity to build reconfigurable radio systems that operate a specific radio link only when required. SESAR JU notes that this solution is “in the pipeline for delivery.”

Satellite-Based Datalink Communications

Under the next wave of research and innovation activities being conducted by SESAR JU — SESAR 2020 — the consortium will look to introduce the use of Inmarsat’s Iris program to support Controller to Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC). Iris is also envisioned to support initial 4D flight path control via satellite, adding the element of time to the three spatial dimensions currently used by manage aircraft flows, latitude, longitude and altitude. 
In February, SESAR JU completed a flight trial that demonstrated the capabilities of the Iris Precursor service, showing its ability to support Automatic Dependent Survillance Contract (ADS-C) reports for downlinking trajectory updates approximately every 20 seconds. SESAR JU expects Iris Precursor to begin supporting CPDLC flight operations in European airspace by 2018.


Collision Alerts

SESAR JU has been working with industry partners to correct a problem that is common to most existing aircraft Airborne Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS). The majority of existing ACAS are prone to false alerts caused by aircraft ascending or descending to a cleared flight level that is in close proximity to another airborne aircraft. ICAO has recommended new altitude capture laws designed to reduce the unnecessary traffic advisories by automatically reducing the vertical rate of the aircraft’s approach to the designated flight level.
SESAR partners conducted validation exercises that replicated the environment in which ACAS is being operated, and used different configurations to test the application of ICAO’s new altitude capture rule compared with existing operations. The flight testing has been examining pilot acceptance and safety, compatibility with air traffic control and overall whether the new law lead to a reduction in unnecessary traffic advisories. The likelihood of receiving a resolution advisory was reduced by a factor of 30, and even 70 in one particular configuration.

Results from the testing have been positive, as the exercises have demonstrated how effective the new altitude law is in reducing the number of resolution advisories. This SESAR solution is ready for industrialization, according to the newly released catalogue. 

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