[Avionics Today 08-31-2016] Civil aviation regulators around the world have already established timelines for regional Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) Out airspace aircraft equipage mandates, which are well documented. As ADS-B rapidly becomes the global surveillance standard for air traffic management, the industry and operators that must equip their aircraft to fly in the ADS-B environment are continually coming up against challenges associated with the cost of equipment, obsolescence, and performance of equipment while operating an aircraft.
Aireon's space-based ADS-B payload on the Iridium NEXT satellite affixed to the launch dispenser. Photo: Aireon.
In the month of August, regulators and industry organizations have made several announcements regarding ADS-B surveillance infrastructure in Europe, space-based ADS-B and more. Here are four recent global ADS-B updates that you might have missed.
1. NAV Canada Gives Space-based ADS-B a Timeline
During last week's Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Air Safety Forum in Washington, D.C., NAV Canada President and CEO Neil Wilson gave an update on Aireon's timeline for launching its much-anticipated space-based ADS-B network. Aireon is a joint venture between Nav Canada and Iridium.
According to Wilson, Aireon is set to launch 10 ADS-B payload-carrying satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), California via SpaceX launch vehicles in September. In total, 81 Iridium satellites featuring ADS-B payloads are being produced to support Aireon's global surveillance system.
"We expect that Aireon surveillance service, along with the expected improvements in North American air-traffic efficiency, will become a reality in 2018,” Wilson told Air Safety Forum attendees last week. Aireon is also going to be offering its Airline Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT) service free of charge to operators and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs).
Additionally, Wilson said the Aireon team expects to feature satcom voice within its Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems to augment the surveillance functionality of its network. Myanmar's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) is the latest regulator to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Aireon
to collaborate and develop a concept of operations as well as a benefits analysis for the use of Aireon's space-based ADS-B in its airspace.
2. European Deployment Strategy for Surveillance Infrastructure
Eurocontrol recently released its Master Plan Level 3 2015 Implementation Report, which included five particular challenges that the European community tasked with enabling aviation infrastructure is facing as the region moves forward with the deployment phase of the Single European Sky airspace modernization program.
Specifically, the Master Plan Level 3 data indicates that the performance requirements for the surveillance function (SPI, ACID) will evolve over the next decade while the exact characteristics of the ground-based infrastructure are unknown.
"The exact characteristics of the ground-based infrastructure constituents are not yet known. The choice of ADS-B based solutions for continental surveillance is limited and major parts of the surveillance infrastructure that will deliver the expected level of performance will probably be based on less cost-efficient wide-area multilateration deployments in combination with classical radar infrastructure," the report states.
Eurocontrol's public relations team told Avionics Magazine more information will be available within the next month regarding this lack of clear guidance on the ground-based infrastructure.
3. CASA Works to Lower Cost
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) ADS-B Out upper airspace mandate for aircraft flying above Flight Level (FL) 29, went into effect in 2003, and the country's mandate for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) aircraft becomes effective Feb. 2, 2017.
In his August 2016 CASA briefing update, CASA CEO Mark Skidmore outlined the agency's effort to lower the cost of ADS-B equipment
for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) aircraft operators. There is no Australian mandate for VFR aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B, however CASA is trying to introduce equipage incentives to influence VFR operators to equip on their own.
"CASA has set up a project to review proposed technical standards for lower cost ADS-B equipment and to identify appropriate performance standards for suitable equipment. The lower-cost ADS-B systems being proposed for visual flight rules operations may not be suitable for aircraft-to-aircraft air traffic control separation purposes but would offer a range of benefits. These include improved traffic information, flight watch and search and rescue alerting, improved collision avoidance through being visible to air traffic control or aircraft equipped with ADS-B In and improved access to controlled airspace," said Skidmore in the monthly briefing.
The way CASA's current ADS-B requirements and standards are structured, there is no recognition for lower-cost ADS-B systems or those that do not meet the design authorization requirements of a Technical Standard Order (TSO). The country would require changes to regulations, standards and advisory material to allow suitable ADS-B equipment to be fitted to visual flight rules aircraft, Skidmore said.
4. PAPR ADS-B Performance Tool
Last week the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) released an update to its members regarding the Public ADS-B Performance Reports (PAPR) tool. The tool is free to pilots and aircraft owners of aircraft equipped with ADS-B, and can be used to verify that their installed ADS-B Out hardware is transmitting properly.
To use the tool, operators visit the PAPR page on the FAA website, enter identifying information about their aircraft, the data and time for a flight to be monitored using the aircraft's ADS-B equipment, and information on the configuration of the ADS-B Out equipment that has been installed on the aircraft.
"From the FAA’s perspective, this is a very valuable tool for aircraft owners, operators and avionics shops to verify accurate transmission of their aircraft’s ADS-B data,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “Without a tool like this one, there is no way to know if the system is performing as expected. There’s no indication in the cockpit, or any other sign of error, if your system isn’t transmitting properly.”